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ON SITE r e v i e w

33 No 1 2015 a journal of architecture and urbanism

on lan d

33

i nte nt io n a l la nd sc a p es , i na d ve r t ent res ult s

CAN/USA $14

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Landscape Futures: Instruments, Devices and Architectural Inventions Geogg Manaugh Actar, 2013 ISBN-10: 8415391145 ISBN-13: 978-8415391142

Spatial Recall: Memory in Architecture and Landscape Marc Treib, editor Routledge, 2009 ISBN-10: 0415777364 ISBN-13: 978-0415777360

Field Studies - The New Aesthetics of Urban Agriculture Regionalverband Ruhr, Udo Weilacher Birkhäuser, 2010 ISBN: 978-3-0346-0260-0

Mines et cités minières du Nord et du Pas-DeCalais. Photographies aériennes de 1920 à nos jours Olivier Kourchid, Annie Kuhnmunch Presses Universitaires de Lille, 1990 ISBN: 2859393676

Architecture, Landscape and City: The Design Experiment of the Metropolitan Landscape Clemens Steenbergen Birkhauser Architecture, 2012 ISBN-10: 3034607458 ISBN-13: 978-3034607452

Taking Measures Across the American Landscape Alex S. MacLean; drawings by James Corner Yale Press, 2000 ISBN: 978-030-0086966

Pamphlet Architecture 28: Augmented Landscapes Allen Smout, Gillian Rose, Neil Spiller Princeton Architectural Press, 2007 ISBN-10: 1568986254 ISBN-13: 978-1568986258

www.onsitereview.ca

Undermining: A Wild Ride Through Land Use, Politics, and Art in the Changing West Lucy R. Lippard The New Press, 2014 ISBN-10: 1595586199 ISBN-13: 978-1595586193

Walkscapes Francesco Careri Editorial Gustavo Gili, 2002 ISBN-10: 8425218411 ISBN-13: 978-8425218415

Green Architecture & The Agrarian Garden Barbara Stauffacher Solomon Rizzoli 1989 Land and Environmental Art ISBN-10: 0847809072 Jeffrey Kastner, editor Phaidon, 1998, new edition 2010 ISBN-13: 978-0847809073 ISBN-13: 978-0714835143 ISBN-10: 0714835145


fall 2015

Stephanie White David Birchall

2 3

introduction Calgary, Alberta Sound drawings Leicester, Skipton, Edale, UK

4 9 10

Pruitt-Igoe, tomorrow St Louis, Missouri Pruitt-Igoe now still St Louis, Missouri Bad behaviour in public parks Montreal and lots of other places

14 18 22

Chain reaction Vancouver Island, British Columbia Ometepe Island Lago de Nicaragua Castles made of sand fall in the sea, eventually Mount St Michael, Cornwall

24 28 31 32 36

Disposessing the wilderness Parks Canada and Forillon, Quebec Our national landscape Urban Canada Ghosts Tooele County, Utah Lost in the empty Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan Assimilation Kalahari Desert, South Africa

38 43 44 48 50

Under cover of green Sudbury, Ontario Gazing at a regreened landscape Laurentian University,Sudbury Holes and heaps Le Bassin Minier, northern France Landscape noir Laos Form on the frontier Korea’s DMZ

Stephanie White

56 60 62 64

Planespotting, the Kai Tak project Hong Kong Viable landscapes Akamina Parkway, Waterton Lakes National Park Trollstigen Visitor Centre Romsdalen-Geiranger fjord, Norway Listening to landscapes Crowsnest Pass, Alberta

Michael Leeb Alec Spangler Troels Steenholdt Heiredal

66 67 68

Oil City Waterton, Alberta Walking and narrative Inner geographies, the Aarhus drawing Aarhus/Copenhagen, Denmark

news and notices who we are

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subscription information, calls for articles contributors, comments team, the masthead

Nora Wendl Heather Dunbar and Xiaowei Wang Dustin Valen mapping and being: why are some Tim Sharp places beautiful, what do we think about them as we draw them, Novka Cosovic photograph them and document Graham Hooper their ephemerality and their sometimes difficult histories

Desirée Valadares Matthew Neville the vast spaces of deserts, military Sara Jacobs sites, and national parks. Are these spaces any less complex than Lindsey Nette our busy urban landscapes? Dillon Marsh the remediated landscapes of mining, war and detente – each has Leanna Lalonde left a damaged land which, through David Fortin sheer necessity, is reclaimed, Ruth Oldham reforested and brought into the Xiaoxuan Lu present with great love and hope

Mike Taylor

protective infrastructure: it’s a dangerous place out Dominique Cheng there. How do we make nature Michael Leeb palatable, less threatening, less likely to crash down on Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter our heads landscapes understood by the foot, which walks them, and by the hand, which draws them

public opinion, civic uses of land tied to social systems, changing land use definitions as demographics and social attitudes change

On Site review gratefully acknowledges the ongoing support of our contributors, our volunteers, our subscribers and the assistance of the Canada Council for the Arts through their Publishing Grants to Arts and Literary Magazines. On Site review also acknowledges the kind support of Calgary Arts Development, City of Calgary.

thank you VJW 1923-2015

On Site review 33: intentional landscapes, inadvertent results

calls for articles coming up, subscription information, notes about contributors and the people who put this issue together

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w rit in g d ra w in g u t ilit y a gen cy sound

on site review 33: on land introduction | s ta rt i n g p o i n t s by stephanie white

What is landscape? The discussion of landscape, in contrast to land, geology, dirt and soil, is often one of aesthetics. And, conventionally, aesthetics seem to be dissociated from politics, social conditions and most things unpalatable. It is possible that ‘landscape’ is a screen or mask that beautifies a set of ugly exploitations. The greening of oil sands tailing ponds, much advertised as remediated landscapes of grasslands and marshes, presents landscape practices that excuse industrialised extractive industries.  The relationship is quantified as surface area: so many hectares of remediated land vs hectares of open pits. I’m not sure it is exactly about numbers. Is there ever a time when landscape is more than a historical record and is not just a panacea, but is a solution? ‘Landscape’ is sometimes understood as a designed condition that mediates between malign forces of nature and the more controllable forces of human settlement.  We hold the lines on the map to our hearts and minds, despite their irrelevance to things such as weather, or jihad, or chemical spills: on site there is a different reality, a different ‘landscape’ and it is one we don’t quite understand and certainly can’t control. Very easily one can be in the wrong place in the wrong landscape through sheer bad timing.  And then there is the beautiful ‘landscape’ of the Red River that flows through Winnipeg, currently being dragged for murdered aboriginal girls. Or BC Highway 16, the Highway of Tears, a stunningly beautiful landscape across northern British Columbia that is forever blackened, not by fire, but by systemic racialised abuse. These are landscapes of fear.

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Landscape is the tag by which we transform land – that mysterious entity of climate, geology and potential resources – into some sort of human endeavour, the unfamiliar made familiar by applying rules which make us feel that we can own the environment. Although the word landscape, like the word architecture, appears frequently as a metaphor for social relations, we would like to look here at actual land and landscape: subversive landscapes, landscapes of exclusion and privilege, landscapes used as social tools for social order, landscapes of intent.   What do they look like?  How do they work?  What is landscape for?

This was the call for articles for this issue. In the middle of the process of collecting articles and essays, David Birchall ordered On Site review 28: sound. His website shows a most beautiful collection of sound drawings of landscapes, encompassing so many of the issue themes of recent On Site reviews: writing, drawing, mapping, narrative, sound and, importantly for this issue, landscape. Beyond the images, beyond the meaning, the semantics, the manipulation and the machinations behind some of the most innocent-seeming landscapes, especially in our national parks, David Birchall’s landscapes are sweet records of birds, rain, trees; cars, airplanes – a landscape of intention and an inadvertent result.


n o is e song t h o u gh t s ma rks ma p s

d r aw i n g | wa l k i n g by d av i d b i r c h a l l

Sound Drawing (Leicester, Skipton, Edale) b9, white ink, black paper. 2013

Da v i d B i r c ha l l

3 R J: quite lovely, the loss of space here, an impossible sound landscape. i love space defined by borders of sound. G H: The look of it, soft lines like chalk, on a slightly mottled greyblack ground, remind me of Beuys’ blackboards, often in themselves both a record of and a spring-board for discussion (sounds). The idea is reminiscent of Richard Long’s walk drawings, which aim, on occasions, to document various sensory experiences, overlaid geographically or spatially.

On Site review 33: intentional landscapes, inadvertent results

Made between August 2012 and October 2013, all the drawings in the series record passing of time and sounds as heard from single spots in the midlands and north of England.


remed ia t io n era s u re a gricu lt u re co mmu n it y f u t u res

re-visiting a modernist icon planning | feral sites by nora wendl

figure 1 Demolition of Pruitt-Igoe housing tower.

In his essay ‘The Temporality of the Landscape’, philosopher Tim Ingold writes, “Let me begin by explaining what landscape is not. It is not ‘land,’ it is not ‘nature,’ and it is not ‘space’.”1 In this simple sentence, Ingold acknowledges that landscapes do not abstractly contain the records of the deliberate interventions and events that transpire upon them – they are the record. From the perspective of the archaeologist and the native dweller, he writes, the landscape is itself the story. For those theorists, historians and designers who would seek to write Pruitt-Igoe’s story, it is difficult, if not impossible, to read the site in its present state as a record of its past – to see in this lush, forested landscape the 33 eleven-story buildings that once towered over it, or the houses that preceded them. It is perhaps easier to read the site cinematically, through a string of iconic images—as a moment that was the symbolic birth of the post-modern architectural movement. (figure 1)

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“Happily,” wrote Charles Jencks, “it is possible to date the death of Modern Architecture to a precise moment in time… Modern Architecture died in St. Louis, Missouri on July 15, 1972 at 3.32 pm (or thereabouts) when the infamous PruittIgoe scheme, or rather several of its slab blocks, were given the final coup de grâce by dynamite. Previously it had been vandalised, mutilated and defaced by its inhabitants and although millions of dollars were pumped back, trying to keep it alive (fixing the broken elevators, repairing smashed windows, repainting), it was finally put out of its misery. Boom, boom, boom.”2 Jencks’ blindness toward PruittIgoe as a federally programmed failure—not one that was hastened to its end by the residents—is evidence of what Pruitt-Igoe has become: a symbol of failure used by theorists to advance specific agendas. Oscar Newman used images of Pruitt-Igoe in its most vandalised, pre-demolition state to argue that its architectural design was the culprit for its failure as it lacked the physical characteristics that would allow the inhabitants to ensure their own security—his theory of defensible space. Colin Rowe and Fred Koetter used PruittIgoe in their polemic on postmodern architecture as evidence that the modern architectural movement failed because of its impulses toward social engineering. Charles Jencks used a photograph of the implosion of Pruitt-Igoe building C-15 to dramatically announce the demise of modern architecture and the beginning of the post-modern era.3 But only Jencks had a vision for the site’s future: “Without doubt, the ruins should be kept, the remains should have a preservation order slapped on them, so that we keep a live memory of this failure in planning and architecture.”4

U n i te d State s D e par tme n t o f H o u s i n g an d U rban D e ve lo pme nt . P u b l i c d om a i n.

Though Jencks did not know it, even as he wrote this, the site was a live memory of the towers. When the first edition of The Language of Postmodern Architecture was published in 1977, the demolition of these buildings would have been complete, with local wrecking companies Cleveland and Aalco destroying the remaining 31 towers by wrecking ball between January 1976 and the spring of 1977. Today, the former towers are still present on the site: under thousands of pounds of fill are fragments of the broken foundations, reinforced concrete and stock brick. More prominently, the electric substation is announced by a high-voltage sign and surrounded by barbed wire warning curious visitors to stay out.

1 Tim Ingold. ‘The Temporality of the Landscape’, in The Perception of the Environment: Essays in Livelihood, Dwelling and Skill. New York: Routledge, 2000. p190 2 Charles Jencks. The New Paradigm in Architecture: The Language of Post-modernism. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2002. p9 3 Though Jencks dates the destruction of the towers to July 15, 1972, Pruitt-Igoe tower C-15 was cinematically demolished on April 21, 1972 in a ‘trial demolition’. 4 Charles Jencks. The New Paradigm in Architecture: The Language of Post-modernism. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2002. p9 5 www.citylab.com/housing/2014/08/a-failed-public-housing-projectcould-be-a-key-to-st-louis-future/379078/


And yet another live memory, or inadvertent result, of PruittIgoe is Ferguson, Missouri, and the event which gained international attention in the summer of 2014: unarmed black teenager Michael Brown was shot to death by police officer Darren Wilson. Upon the destruction of the Pruitt-Igoe towers from 1972-1977, former residents of the project fled north to suburbs of St. Louis County including Spanish Lake and Ferguson, as closer white suburbs blocked the construction of multi-family housing.5 Though architectural history would reduce the memory of the Pruitt-Igoe site to one iconic photograph of a tower being brought down by sticks of dynamite embedded in its foundation, the “live memory of this failure in planning and architecture,” in Jencks’ own words, is quite well. And those living it are subject to the same cycles of poverty and violence to which the towers bore witness. If the deliberate interventions and events that transpired on the site of Pruitt-Igoe in the past would have consequences far beyond the perimeter of the lot on which the buildings were located and far beyond the lifespan of the buildings, it is tempting to imagine what shape its future might take—and indeed, how in turn that might shape the future of St. Louis. The site of the former Pruitt-Igoe housing complex is located a mere two miles northwest of Saarinen’s Gateway Arch, bounded by Cass Avenue, North 20th Street, Carr Avenue, and North Jefferson Avenue. Private developer Paul McKee is currently proposing what he terms his Northside Regeneration Plan for the site, which would place the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency—the eyes and ears of the United States Department of Defense—squarely at the centre of what was once the Pruitt-Igoe housing complex. 1,500 acres of

residential, commercial, and office spaces, a school, and 50 acres of parks and trails complete the proposal. While this is not the first proposal for the site – previous proposals have included a golf course, a shopping mall, and for a time, a flirtation with industrial storage – it is a serious one. Mayor Francis Slay is pushing steadily for its inclusion on this site, and architectural studios at Washington University have already explored this notion. While the site awaits its future, it looks largely the same as it did in the summer of 2011, when I formed a non-profit organisation with Michael R. Allen, director of the St. Louisbased Preservation Research Office. Together, we launched the Pruitt-Igoe Now ideas competition: if prompted, how would contemporary architects, designers, urban designers, writers, artists and university students visualise the future life of the former Pruitt-Igoe site? Out of 348 total submissions collected between June 2011 and March 16, 2012, seven jurors—Teddy Cruz (University of California San Diego), Sergio Palleroni (Portland State University, BASIC Initiative), Theaster Gates Jr. (University of Chicago and Founder, Rebuild Foundation), Diana Lind (Next American City), Bob Hansman (Washington University), Joseph Heathcott (New School), and Sarah Kanouse (University of Iowa) — selected 31 finalists and three winning entries: first place, St. Louis Ecological Assembly Line: Pruitt-Igoe as Productive Landscape, Heather Dunbar and Xiaowei R. Wang; second place, Recipe Landscape, Aroussiak Gabrielian and Alison Hirsch; and third place, The Fantastic Pruitt-Igoe!, by Social Agency Lab.

5 cultural history (i.e. all sites?) how do you choose to move forward responsibly, shaping what is to come? taking action - especially action on the scale of architecture - seems fraught with responsibility. S W: This is a classic piece of investigative writing: Nora takes iconic moments in American architectural history (she did a project on Philip Johnson’s Glass House in 31:mapping) and interrogates them with considerable ruthlessness. It makes me question all I ever learnt about architectural history,

simply because these simple narratives were written almost like one-liners that were so powerful that hardly anyone thought to look behind them. That she explains the link between Pruitt-Igoe and Ferguson makes more sense out of what to many of us was a senseless act: it has a spatial history.

On Site review 33: intentional landscapes, inadvertent results

M H: A common thread in this issue of On Site review is: what do we do with empty space? what do we do with places ‘after the fact’ of what they’ve been – derelict cities, abandoned mines? What is the value of empty space and how do we experience it, and how are current policies and political narratives to rewrite the wilderness limited? An uninhabited (or informally inhabited) land is full of potential and can be read in many ways: moving forward means choosing one narrative over others. When dealing with a site with a complex social and


right, from the top: figure 2. Sina Zekavat, Carr Square Brick Yard: an intervention in the cycle of brick theft from vulnerable northside buildings. A brickyard accommodates both storage for salvaged bricks and facilities for the production of new brick. figure 3. Clouds Architecture Office, Double Moon: an illuminated, artificial moon that hovers over the site, beckoning St. Louisans who might otherwise ignore the site.

figure 4. Aroussiak Gabrielian and Alison Hirsch of Foreground Design Agency, Recipe Landscape: the architecture of the site is re-used in the production of ‘the 31 flavors of Pruitt-Igoe’, growing ingredients for ice cream on the site, and creating a city-wide distribution network for the unique product.

If these proposals for the site of Pruitt-Igoe are any indication, the Pruitt-Igoe of tomorrow is not architectural – it is agricultural, a nod to the verdant land available on site, and to the dearth of fresh market groceries to serve the northside neighbourhoods. Twenty of the 31 selected finalists proposed phyto-remediation – agriculture or recreational gardening to remove toxins, the by-product of construction and other interventions, from the land, and programs that enable the site to be a catalyst for growth in local infrastructure or entertainment—the brick factory, the construction of an artificial moon (figures 2,3). In a majority of proposals, architecture is negated in favour of utopian systems of agriculture, food production, and distribution—utopias closer to Thomas More’s vision (social, organised, productive), than the formal modern utopian proposals from which Pruitt-Igoe descended. In Recipe Landscape, Gabrielian and Hirsch recreate the site on domestic and ritualistic lines—animal husbandry and apiculture are the primary systems in the ‘31 flavors of Pruitt-Igoe’, which reuses the Pruitt School as a dairy and a creamery which distribute to stores city wide. (figure 4)

On Site review 33: intentional landscapes, inadvertent results

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S i na Z e k a v a t

Similarly, Dunbar and Wang imagine St. Louis Ecological Assembly Line: Pruitt-Igoe as Productive Landscape, in which the site, the epicentre of an ‘ecological assembly line’, is full of tree and plant nurseries that capitalise on the growing conditions of St. Louis and provide plants to over 13,000 acres of St. Louis parks. (figure 5, opposite page) The Fantastic Pruitt-Igoe! by Social Agency Lab proposes a world in which St. Louis schoolchildren would invent programmatic and physical features for the site, working collaboratively with an advisory board of adults to envision the structures, programming and activities that would comprise this new and decidedly un-bureaucratic life for the site.

Clo u ds A rch it e c t u r e O f fi c e

F o re g ro u n d D e s i gn A ge nc y


figure 5. St. Louis Ecological Assembly Line: Pruitt-Igoe as Productive Landscape, by Heather Dunbar and Xiaowei R. Wang imagines the site as a producer of trees for parks throughout St. Louis.

H e ath e r Du nb a r a nd Xi a owe i R Wa ng

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the story of the Expo 67 grounds on Ile St Helene. In the case of PruittIgoe the symbolism of the site was really in its destruction, and the naturalized landscape is (as far as I can tell) the effect of opportunistic species. In contrast, at Expo 67, the event itself - the pavilions, transportation, and physical site of the island represented one

of the most significant experiments in megastructure and urban design at the time, and was a symbolic moment in the history of Montreal and Canada - the physical structures held the symbolic relevance, rather than their destruction. However, since Expo 67, the site has been stripped of all but three ‘monuments’ from the event, and a park has

replaced the innovative explorations in urban space. This landscape presents a romanticized idea of a park, ‘denaturalizing’ a site which was never natural a man-made island. See Expo 67 Then and Now at www.worldsfaircommunity. org

On Site Site review review 33: 33: intentional intentional landscapes, landscapes, inadvertent inadvertent results results On

AO’C: The story of the site, cultural and political histories and present pressures is very compelling, evidenced in the contrast of the developers proposal and the competition results. At the same time, this story of such a monumental and iconic site being replaced by a ‘naturalized’ landscape with no reference to its past life brings to mind


figure 6. In Pruitt-Igoe: The Forest of Floating Minds, by Clouds Architecture Office, the 33 footprints of the original Pruitt-Igoe towers are elevated on concrete structures and covered in vegetation, intended to foster the collective memory of the site.

When we first proposed this ideas competition to city officials, they balked. If people knew the site was still empty, they argued, it would be bad publicity – it would make it look as if St. Louis had never ‘solved’ the problem of Pruitt-Igoe. Today, the mayor’s support of the solution proposed by Paul McKee is evidence of a desire to make the site productive in the most literal sense—to put 3,200 Department of Defense jobs at its centre to catalyse new economic growth in the area. But if this is Pruitt-Igoe tomorrow, what of its unintended consequences? Are these jobs for the residents of this community, or are they jobs for educated white men? Will the tall fences topped with concertina wire be removed from the edges of the site, or will this boundary be reified in a new way, by security clearances, economic, racial and social differences? Instead of containing and isolating poverty, as the site did while Pruitt-Igoe stood, will it secure and protect affluence? Ultimately, when we assured the city officials that what we were running was merely an ideas competition, they agreed that ideas were harmless. It was the American Institute of Architects St. Louis chapter that hounded us: “what about jobs?” they asked, concerned that by producing and exhibiting a proliferation of ideas, somehow the possibility of real action on the site would be forever stalled, and architects of St. Louis never invited to take action.

The site of the former Pruitt-Igoe housing complex lives still in a liminal space between the idea of action and the enacting of it. (Fig. 6) Minoru Yamasaki’s original proposal, after all, was a series of low-density garden apartments. Its reality, 33 eleven-story towers, was pushed forward at the behest of the political administrators of the site, and forced through Yamasaki’s hand. Perhaps the best inadvertent result that could transpire from Pruitt-Igoe—and indeed, we are still awaiting one—would not be a formal composition of land, or nature, or space, but instead a professional commitment to build a world in which the unintended consequences of architecture’s physical, social, and cultural intervention will not be merely the perpetuation of cycles of poverty and violence that architecture alone cannot solve.

acknowledgements: My deepest thanks to Michael R. Allen, Director of Preservation Research Office and co-organiser of Pruitt-Igoe Now, the competition jurors, our advisory committee, and those who entered the competition. I also thank Stephanie White, editor of On Site review, for the opportunity to reflect on the contemporary condition of the site and its imminent future.

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Clo u ds A r c hi t e c t u r e O f fi c e


ecological assembly line

The more one learns about Pruitt-Igoe, the more one is struck by the ambiguity of the site. Layers of scattered history have shaped representation of the site into an ideological tool itself; a representation that serves any one of multiple narratives. From the trajectory of social engineering through design, the death of modernism, the failure of the American city, and the continued, unsuccessful attempts to alleviate inequity in cities, the representation and perception of Pruitt-Igoe itself almost overtakes the physical and material realities of the actual site. This neglect of the physical landscape has left us with a strange and accidental opportunity. Where PruittIgoe, the idea and the building complex, once stood is now a spontaneous forest, a place where vegetation obscures and absorbs history. When approaching the Pruitt-Igoe Now competition we were struck by this accidental forest and thought it needed to be preserved to serve as a memorial to Pruitt-Igoe’s history. What came to our attention with further research was the neglected state of Pruitt’s surrounding areas. Instead of being levelled, the demise of Pruitt-Igoe’s surrounding neighbourhoods took place over time, sometimes one house was left standing on a block where there had been twenty. The shock of Pruitt-Igoe’s demolition spread beyond its site.

project | landscapes of production by h e at h e r d u n b a r + x i a o w e i wa n g

in d u s t r y f o res t f a ct o ries eco n o my a mb igu it y

As we worked on the competition, we felt strongly that our competition entry needed to connect with the larger discourse on shrinking cities, and how these places could be turned into economic generators without repeating the patterns of boom, bust and inequality that they had experienced before. We were far less interested in a pastoral reclamation of the land, instead we knew we could leverage St Louis’s history as an industrial powerhouse. Abandoned areas surrounding Pruitt-Igoe would serve as economic ecological assembly lines. We imagined nurseries and aquaculture at an industrial level. Abandoned land could be reactivated with the intention of serving the St Louis regional parks system through the growth and distribution of native flora and fauna. Economically stimulating Pruit-Igoe, not through shopping centres and condos but through productive ecological zones, meant embracing the larger relationships between ecology and economy present in Pruitt-Igoe’s history, while departing from the typical attempts for revival that only repeat the past. We proposed a radical response to match the history of Pruitt-Igoe.

9 On Site review 33: intentional landscapes, inadvertent results

H e ath e r Du nb a r a nd Xi a owe i R Wa ng


so cia l co n t ra ct su b v ers io n l a w les s n es s co n t ro l exclu s io n r e s i s ta n c e | p u b l i c s pa c e s by d u s t i n va l e n

Recently, after recommending a walk in Toronto’s High Park to a visiting friend, I was duly informed that large caches of condom wrappers were concealed in the trees and shrubs not far from the park’s well-worn paths. What are we to make of this seemingly non-event? Should we be alarmed or indifferent? How about optimistic? In The Experience of Landscape, geographer Jay Appleton argues that our attraction to landscape is the result of deep-seated psychological and biological urges.1 In his prospect-refuge theory, the pleasure we take in viewing and entering landscapes (both real and pictorial) comes from our latent animal urge to ‘see without being seen’. We covet both expansive prospects and the intimacy of shady groves, because they elicit feelings of safety. As a way of thinking through contemporary public parks, Appleton’s theory raises several questions. First, besides offering individual enlightenment, parks embody many collective desires, from beauty, harmony and order, to morality and health. Can the prospect-refuge theory include these contemporary values? Second, whereas Appleton’s approach is fundamentally aesthetic, the values placed on contemporary landscapes cover social, political and ecological concerns.

to act out these socially-transgressive behaviours? And where better to transgress than in these value-laden landscapes? Parks attract the same subversive pleasures and civil disobedience that they are meant to literally and symbolically expunge. If parks reflect our Edenesque desires, discovering bad behaviour in parks is like looking into the mirror and seeing a blemish on the face of reality. Not only is bad behaviour in parks inevitable (according to Appleton and the historical record), it shakes us to our psychological core. As landscape studies shift from questions of aesthetics to issues of power, identity, gender and race, the merits of bad behaviour become apparent. In the interplay between individuals who transgress park rules and the social and political consequences, bad behaviour brings our landscape values into sharp and often discomfiting relief. In the past it has also led to social and political change.

Parks are a steadfast institution of the modern city that embody some our most cherished civic values. But they are also riddled with paradoxes: truths and rumours about public parks abound, they harbour an illicit sex-trade, attract petty and violent crime, and are often sites of disorder and unrest. Here the double-edged consequences of a psychological approach are equally clear; where better than in the safety of a refuge

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Du s t i n Va l e n


opposite, below: Rules posted in Montreal’s Parc Mont Royal, 2015 below: Occupy Toronto camp in St. James Park, 2011

control of the unruly individual Canada’s public parks have long been at the centre of debates over the preservation of a moral and equitable society. In the 1900s, park planners and civic reformers championed landscape as a cure for the degradations of pollution, alcoholism, vice and labour strife prevalent in many Canadian cities.2 Parks were treated as a social experiment to improve the behaviour and appearance of the working class and the poor. Under vigilant surveillance, strict rules of conduct and composure required park users to adopt acceptable behaviours prescribed by elites who made up civic administrations.3 Fences and gates, opening and closing hours, a ban on liquor and foul language; sports, gambling and other working-class pastimes were prohibited, and where swimming pools were provided, men and women were separated. Infractions were frequent and often deliberate; justice was meted out swiftly: vagrants were taken away and anyone caught picking flowers or damaging park property was arrested, fined, sometimes even jailed. Disputes over the role of parks were fierce: workers wanted better access, lawns for sports and popular entertainments. Social elites lamented the loss of their parks to delinquents and vagabonds. Public pressure to democratise parks increased in the 1920s and 1930s; authorities yielded to new demands, constructing playgrounds, sports fields and dance halls.4 In St. John’s Bowring Park, where clashes erupted between wealthy automobile owners and working class pedestrians choked by trailing clouds of dust and splattered by mud, park users successfully petitioned the City in 1931 to ban automobiles from the park on Sundays and holidays.

gentrification of the underbrush The relationship of individuals who transgress park rules and the consequences of actions perpetrated by public officials, is another critical consideration. Like the moralising impulse of early twentieth century reformers, the use of landscape by authorities as a gentrifying force has been persistent, and at times intense. In 1945, the rape and murder of a nineyear old boy in Montreal’s Parc Mont Royal catalysed Jean Drapeau’s political career as a moral crusader. As mayor, Drapeau rallied public opinion against the city’s so-called ‘perverts’ and ciriminals as part of his effort to transform Montreal’s image into that of a world-class city. Known as the morality cuts, underbrush and trees were removed from Parc Mont Royal to improve surveillance and to discourage illicit activities perpetrated by gay men for whom the mountain was supposedly a preferred rendezvous. As erosion and other environmental consequences wrought more devastation on Mont Royal, the mountain’s balding appearance served as a constant reminder of Drapeau’s dictatorial politics, leading to a reforestation campaign during the 1960s. Such cleanups in public parks are not confined to the past; a report by Calgary Municipal Land Corporation in May 2010, cited the long gone-wild St. Patrick’s Island as difficult to police and harbouring undesirable behaviours such as drug use and gay cruising. In 2012 underbrush was removed from the park as part of a 20 million dollar redevelopment plan. Efforts to prevent unwanted social activities in parks represent a different order of bad behaviour, this time committed by institutions against disenfranchised individuals. Individuals, for their part, have resisted and even reversed this trend by defending their park against the regressive actions of public officials. Half a century since Drapeau’s morality cuts, park users remain defiant – the parking lot near Beaver Lake is an after-hours dogging rendezvous, a clear and persistent flaunting of perceived authoritarian rules.

11 On Site review 33: intentional landscapes, inadvertent results

Cre ati ve Co mmo n s L i ce n ce

Decades after these hard-won battles, parks continue to play an important role in struggles over economic and social parity. After a global day of action on October 15, 2011, campers occupied city parks across Canada. Unlike other countries where protesters crowd into city streets and squares, Canadians set up tents in public parks across the country to protest things such as the systematic failure of government to regulate financial systems and curb corporate greed. By reclaiming these ostensibly public landscapes, protesters send a clear message about the corruption of public values by excessive private powers.


below:Occupy Toronto camp in St James Park, 2011 Protesters in Christie Pits Park during the Toronto Garden Strike, 2009 opposite: Point Pleasant Park five years after Hurricane Juan, 2008

institutional misrule Many of Canada’s public parks shelter residents forced out of cities by privatising forces and economic pressures. In 2013, The Vancouver Sun interviewed residents of Stanley Park where several dozen homeless people live—some have been there for more than a decade. Toronto’s Don River Valley interconnected park system has long been a refuge for the city’s homeless whose makeshift shelters constructed from recycled clothing and building materials are easily discovered. Often (falsely) linked with litter, promiscuity and crime, the use of parks by itinerant populations recalls depression-era debates as parks became home to many urban unemployed. Not all informal occupations can be ignored: in July 2014 homeless residents of Vancouver’s beleaguered and low-income lower east side constructed a camp in nearby Oppenheimer Park to protest their neglect by city officials. Despite numerous eviction notices and citations from the fire department, 400 displaced residents remained in the park, referring to its relative safety over the squalid condition of city shelters. Over the course of the three-month long occupation, a maelstrom of negative press aimed at past efforts to address homelessness forced the City of Vancouver to announce an additional 100 shelter spaces and 157 interim housing units to meet homeless needs. And in another example in the pursuit of social justice, in June 2009, Toronto residents came to the defence of their public space when 24,000 members of the Toronto Civic Employees Union went on strike and the City used parks as a convenient and free location to open temporary dumpsites. As the smell of rotting garbage heated by high

summer temperatures increased, protesters tried to block contractors from spreading rat poison over the heaps of foetid garbage. After 36 days of strike, 48,900 tonnes of trash had accumulated inside the city limits as media and public debate centred on the City’s misappropriation of public space.

Cre ati ve C om m ons L i c e nc e

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12 R J: subversion and pleasure are not mutually exclusive - the kinds of pleasure afforded by natural (or at least naturalistic) landscape are not necessarily an opposition between civil pleasure and uncivil behavior. Is it possible to reconcile the pleasure of enlightenment that city parks sell to citizens and the subversive pleasure of concealment and rule breaking that those same citizens find in the wooded glades and behind the ornamental shrubs meant to add depth and structure to a phantasm of natural repose? Post-Sandy waterfront

redevelopment projects in New York are an example of landscape manipulation, as well as various ‘unbound’ park initiatives and contemporary art engagements to get a more complex idea of the issue of changing approaches to park space that are more flexible to different social and ecological condition. Cary Wolfe’s essay on the Downsview Park redevelopment, ‘Shifting Ground’, shows an alternative view on park design, its relationship to architecture, and the formal aspects of the social issues discussed here.

M oni c a G u p t a

Finally, as an aside, did you know that squirrels did not find their own way into American cities? they were introduced in the 19th century as a possible way of pacifying unruly city youth by encouraging their engagement with a particularly pacific sort of natural creature.


Du s t i n Va l e n

global indifference Climate change may be the next test of the extent to which people are willing to defend their parks against bad behaviour. Parks have become potent symbols of our environmental attitudes. New values placed on parks also challenge us to expand our understanding of bad behaviour as new forces both individual and institutional in origin threaten our landscape values. Climate change, the sum of many bad behaviours, impacts our public parks and their appreciation: invasive species perpetrate new kinds of vagrant activities, rising temperatures that affect precipitation in turn affects the migratory patterns of animals and shifts the geographical boundaries of many plant species. Warmer temperatures elevate the risk of attack by insects and pathogens: many northern tree species are becoming vulnerable to disease. Dutch elm disease, an infectious fungi spread by beetles who make their home beneath the bark, has devastated millions of hectares of Canada’s woodlands, including almost 80 per cent of Toronto’s street and park elm population. In Winnipeg’s historic Assiniboine Park, a 200 year old elm, affectionately known as ‘Grandma’ and connected to Lord Selkirk, was felled. In 2013 alone some 5,600 elm trees were destroyed across Winnipeg. Add to this devastation the damage wrought on Halifax’s Point Pleasant Park by Hurricane Juan in 2003, and to St. John’s Bowring Park by Hurricane Igor in 2010 where a century-old linden tree planted by the Duke of Connaught was torn from the ground—the effects of climate change on our public parks are difficult to ignore.

2014 was the warmest year on record. Rising global temperatures will increasingly bear on our landscape values. Although action has been slow, the ability of parks to mitigate the effects of climate change has also been recognised. In the six decades since Hurricane Hazel inundated much of Toronto, the re-naturalisation of the Don River Valley through a series of ecological parks has been made a priority to protect against future extreme weather events.

the litmus of bad behaviour As surrogates for our social and sustainable goals, public parks are key players in the ongoing negotiation of our cultural and political values. By throwing a spotlight on these values, bad behaviour forces us to confront their instability and the often unseemly paradoxes of our actions and institutions. Bad behaviour and its consequences also assert the ability of landscape to affect social and political change. The merit of bad behaviour in public parks is that we must ask ourselves how we reconcile unlikable, challenging, dangerous, tragic intrusions? From High Park’s condom wrappers to Hurricane Juan, all bad behaviours that affect our parks should be recognised as signposts for change.

13 wilder the transgressive reaction. The Calgary Stampede comes to mind; not a public park, but a public event complete with costumes, the mythos of the lawless west borrowed from Hollywood, much bad behaviour all around and this in very much a law and order city. St. Patrick’s Island, mentioned by Dustin, has been transformed into a riverine ecology centre: anywhere natural is increasingly groomed. I think the Stampede and its annual blow-out of bad behaviour legitimises the manicuring of nature throughout the city. Somehow the social

contract has been assumed to be broken. No longer are we allowed to live and let live, trusting that diversity in society is kind of self-regulating in terms of ‘bad behaviour’. Such regulation and indeed tolerance has been taken out of our hands and put into those of a police mentalilty.

1 Jay Appleton. The Experience of Landscape. New York: Wiley, 1975 2 Geoffrey Blodgett. ‘Frederick Law Olmsted: Landscape Architecture as Conservative Reform’ The Journal of American History 62, no. 4,1976. pp 869-889 3 Dorceta E. Taylor. ‘Central Park as a Model for Social Control: Urban Parks, Social Class and Leisure Behaviour in NineteenthCentury America’ Journal of Leisure Research 31, no. 4, 1999. pp420-477 4 Galen Cranz. The Politics of Park Design: A History of Urban Park in America. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press,1982

On Site review 33: intentional landscapes, inadvertent results

S W: sites of transgression such as carnival are where individuals are given anonymity, either by mask or costume, to transgress social norms. These are licenced because they are in a festival. What is being proposed here is a continuous state of transgression in our public parks. The degree of transgression, and this is from Peter Stallybrass and Allon White’s The Politics and Poetics of Transgression, has a direct relationship to the degree of oppression in general society: the more clamped down it is, the


opposite, top: Gunter’s chain: 66’, 1/10 furlong or 1/80 mile, divided into 100 links of 7.92”. Coincidentally, one of the main companies for producing the chains was situated not far from where I went to school in Birmingham, England. I found out that they also produced chains for convicts and fetters for slaves. Nowadays one of the company specialities is handcuffs for police forces. opposite below: Installation of Chain Reaction in the former Kartographisches Institut in Vienna. It was he headquarters where the survey information from all over the Habsburg Empire came together to be made into maps, military and civilian. The rectangle, marked by red chalk at its corners, is where one of the heavy printing presses stood.

Ti m Sh arp

a real estate

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Historically, accurate surveying required precise measurement over long distances; incontestable borders require surveying on a large scale using triangulation. Starting from a known position, a line of sight measurement of angles is made to two other points – a mountain top, a rock, a tower, and repeated at those other points. One of the side of the triangle must be measured on the ground, in the past using some form of chain. The combination of all these measurements allows position and distance to be calculated. The survey is extended using one of the sides of the previously measured triangle as the baseline for the next in what becomes a tessellation of interconnected triangles, a triangulation network. Early Canadian surveyors were often soldiers; in British Columbia it was a detachment of the Royal Engineers. Their main task was to survey and fix the 49th parallel which, according to the Anglo-American Convention of 1818, was the border between two empires, one declared, the other de facto. Apart from spending time organising property deals, they also laid out New Westminster which was intended to be – and for a time was – the capital of British Columbia. They also built the road to the thriving settlement of Vancouver on the ice-free Burrard Inlet situated slightly to the north-west. But even civil surveyors were imperial foot soldiers with lack of long-term political clout (with notable exceptions which serve

mapping | land grants by tim sharp

s u r v eys mea s u remen t p o s s es s io n res o u rces co mmo d it y

to underline the contemporary possibility of taking a more differentiated and sensitive position with regard to the original inhabitants of the country). Matthew Edney, acknowledging the active agency of surveyors and mapmakers in the imperialist scheme of things underway on the other side of the planet, involving the other Indians as it were, pointed out: “In short, triangulation-based surveys are rooted, like all other cartographic practice, in cultural conceptions of space and in the politics of manipulating spatial representations.”1 In India the issue was not about individual settlers acquiring title to plots of land, but rather about rationally defining and standardising land ownership in order to make tax assessments based on the estimated level of agricultural production, the administrative foundation for revenue extraction in its purest form. Many regions of India had a long-established, functional (and functioning) agricultural system which, prior to British annexation and the arrival of a ‘free market economy’, included communal grain storage as an emergency back-up for periods of drought, an institution Vattel explicitly approved of for European governments.2 One of the main differences between east and west was that the inhabitants of North America were hunters and gatherers and, when they engaged in cultivation, were not solely dependent on their produce. It was a difference with dire consequences.


Ti m S ha r p

replicating structures laws creating innumerable new capital offences (in at least two sense of the word) to establish the new regime. He points out, ‘The Hanoverian Whigs …were a hard lot of men. And they remind us that stability, no less than revolution, may have its own kind of terror’.6 With many traditional-use rights curtailed and a campaign of systematic enclosures of common land underway, many of those who lived on and from the land lost their independence and were forced into wage labour. For the beneficiaries, this made for more ‘rational’ land use while having the added ‘benefit’ of creating a tide of emigration to the cities to service the growing industries there. It also started a stream of emigration to the colonies that was to last into the twentieth century. Scotland exhibits parallels: after the Jacobite rebellion in 1745 had been quashed, the military potential of the clan system was dismantled. Clansmen were disarmed, the kilt forbidden and clan chiefs were turned into the sole and absolute legal owners of clan estates. The potential increase in wealth represented by lucrative sheep farming and selling wool to the rapidly expanding and well-protected textile industry, proved too great for most clan chiefs leading to the Highland Clearances, the precondition for profitable business and the coercive motivation for many to leave their homeland in search of land and security elsewhere. Looking at those events from the other side of the Atlantic, Lewis Hyde summarises: it was, he says, the same war the American Indians had to fight with the Europeans, a war against the marketing of formerly inalienable properties. Whereas before a man could fish in any stream and hunt in any forest, now he found there were individuals who claimed to be owners of these commons. The basis of land tenure had shifted. 7 In short, the commodification of land and its concentration in a few hands was a qualitatively different way than before.

15 On Site review 33: intentional landscapes, inadvertent results

It is tempting to leave the story here, just another story about a colonial elsewhere, distanced in space and time, a story that, as Herman Merivale of the Colonial Office in London saw clearly, consists of a series “of wretched details of ferocity and treachery”.3 However, since I remembered reading a quotation from Thomas Spence’s A Lecture read at the Philosophical Society in Newcastle on Nov. 8th 1775, for the printing of which the Society did the Author the Honour to expel him, I wanted to find out if there were relevant patterns already present in the initiating colonial culture. Landowners, says Spence, criticising the status quo: …can, by laws of their own making, oblige every living creature to remove off his property (which to the great distress of mankind, is too often put in execution); so of consequence, were all the landholders to be of one mind, and determined to take their properties into their own hands, all the rest of mankind might go to heaven if they would, for there would be no place found for them here.4 Spence was not engaged in idle philosophical speculation. What he asserted was written in historical circumstances and conditions which continued into midnineteenth century England. He offered a way of considering the background of those colonisers who were so adamant about their racial superiority, fitness to inherit the earth and security of tenure – in other words those, whose instrumentalised racism was, as Hugh Brody puts it, ‘relentless and purposeful”.5 Spence’s concerns were directed to the commons in England, communal rights of use of land – the grazing, hunting, brick-making and firewood collecting which had been enjoyed by cottagers and villagers from time immemorial, and which were being systematically abrogated by privately-introduced parliamentary legislation — passed, in the main, by the beneficiaries themselves wearing different hats. At times the changes took place quietly and at others, as E P Thompson has shown, it needed all the force of draconic


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the lie of the land

some specifics of place

Land grabbing is alive and well in a twenty-first century mutated form. Characters clearly recognisable from historical accounts of colonial rule – corrupt government officials speculating with a syndicate of friends, local figures entrusted with community land who successfully convert it to their own, the company supported by government influence or platoons of lawyers – all these are still present, especially in Africa and South America. The one figure that is missing today is the settler. In the changed situational dynamics, the settler’s role, conflated with investment capital and sovereignty over the land, is no longer asserted as a necessary prerequisite for securing assets. In the desire to secure resources (oil, minerals, timber, water), the demand for agro-fuel (produced from maize, oil palm, sugar cane, jatropha), or simply to assure the supply of food for their customers, companies and governments are engaged in buying or leasing large tracts of land wherever it is cheap and potentially productive. Not all foreign investment is bad although the workings of the market do produce strange blooms – food-insecure Ethiopia with much arable land at its disposal, produces via an Indian company a major share of cut roses for Europe (95% of roses sold in the Netherlands for example), while at the same time a lack of investment capital and technical equipment forces Ethiopia to be dependent on food imports. The development of agro-fuels as part of a ‘green revolution’ spearheads the opening up of markets in Africa and the consequent removal of land control and production from African hands and community-based systems. Those under the most pressure are the middle-to-small subsistence farmers holding their land under a system of traditional tenure derived from families, lineages and communities or government title. Agro-fuel for the local market is not the same as agro-fuel for Western Europe with its recently imposed targets; large scale food farming for national use is not the same as production for the export market, however foreign investors demand growth and security for their investment along with security of title of any assets, often achieved by bi-lateral treaty agreements at government level. Companies, put on the same footing as nationals, regulate divestment and compensation procedures that allow foreign investors to bypass national courts in any disputes and to present their case in an international court or tribunal appointed to deal with treaty disputes. Foreign interests often mesh with those of centralised governments, jointly pushing towards a centralised system of commodified land ownership with clearly defined boundaries (courtesy of GPS surveying technologies) and away from communal multi-level use, negotiated, administered and endorsed locally. In the lack of consultation, power slips away from the periphery to the centre, and the periphery organises to resist dispossession without consultation. China’s attempt to take 1.5– 2.5 million hectares in the Philippines and Daewoo’s 2008 attempt to lease half Madagascar’s arable land, failed because of protests. Even so, the arguments are similar to those used two hundred years ago — the land in question is waste land, marginal, under-used, unexplored, empty, all categories imposed by central governments that ignore complex uses ‘on the ground’ and which arrogate the right to dispose of land as it sees fit.

In 1871 when British Columbia joined the Canadian confederation, one of its pre-conditions was that BC be linked overland to the rest of Canada, fulfilled by the Canadian Pacific Railway by 1884. In the 1880s on Vancouver Island, Robert Dunsmuir founded a railway company, the Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway. Both the CPR and E&NR received land grants for their efforts: 30km each side of the line. Dunsmuir’s deal also included mineral rights which meant that the company ‘owned’ around 20 percent of the island (which is about three-quarters the size of Switzerland), while the CPR ‘owned’ much of Vancouver, which with the arrival of the railway took on new importance. Significantly it was the CPR land commissioner, Lauchlan Hamilton, who laid out the street grid for Vancouver after its almost complete destruction by fire in 1886. One of the first pieces of business for the newly-formed Vancouver City Council was the designation of a large area of land for recreational purposes (leaving enough time for the friends of one of the aldermen to log the area) on a peninsula looking west to the Strait of Georgia and east up Burrard Inlet. Now it may be that the gentlemen in question were motivated by municipal well-being but it is worth noting that many of them had, or represented, interests in the remaining real estate in the neighbourhood. Had the British Crown put 950 acres of prime property on the market, both their holdings and those of the CPR (Lauchlan Hamilton, was a CPR employee and well as an alderman) would have suffered. However if it was turned into a municipal park it would not only increase the value of the remaining plots and provide a space for middle class leisure occupations such as sailing and cricket, it would also increase the potential attraction of Vancouver to outside investors. This was the 950 acres that became Stanley Park. However, there was still one other problem; some of the peninsula was inhabited. Apart from some Coast Salish people who had always lived there, the proposed park was home to a number of Chinese families, European immigrants married to First Nation women, fisherman with houses on stilts on the beach of Dead Man’s Island and, just across the inlet, the Kanaka Ranch, where Hawaiian men lived with First Nation wives and their children. The newspapers were induced to start a campaign against the ‘undesirable squatters’ and the ‘loose and disorderly sort of people’ – terms that might justifiably be used by the Coast Salish for the interlopers instigating the campaign – and in the long term they were successful, using either legal instruments, intimidation or, when forced, compensatory payments. Legal cases involve claims by many occupants to title to the land on the basis of ‘adverse possession’ (proof of 20 to 60 years of uninterrupted occupation). The courts ruled that the oral testimony of ‘Indians’ was not to be relied on, a judicial way of silencing the land. Having succeeded in ridding the area of ‘Indians and mixed bloods’ the Vancouver Parks Department suggested erecting a fake Indian village as an attraction. Though this idea was never realised, totem poles representing many First Nations from BC (but not those who had recently occupied that piece of land – they had no tradition of wood carving) were erected.


coming home to roost The 49th parallel that forms the border between much of Canada and the USA also runs through about four kilometres of Austria. A stone marker is located in a pleasant forest area near a lake, approximately 30 metres from where the Iron Curtain hung across Europe until 1989, making the border relatively inaccessible for almost half a century. Before the First World War there was no national border here at all, the area being part of the Habsburg Empire. The little monument also marks the intersection with the 15° East meridian, which makes it an abstract chronological border – UTC +1. The post-midday July sun streams through the trees illuminating the forest floor and reflecting off the little lake just beyond the border. Birds sing, insects buzz, water bubbles over stones and a butterfly cuts its own erratic and silent pathway through the air. The Austrian woods, that in two steps become Czech, are like a doll’s house version of British Columbia’s temperate rainforest. Both preclude the breadth and depth of vision normally associated with landscape views, and all of the countries involved in this triangulation network have another thing in common: the instrumentalisation of difference and relative powerlessness for gain, often distilled down into racism. Standing among the sunbeams I have to make an effort to conjure up the shades of those who were racially isolated, refused their civil rights, stripped of their property and, if they were among the fortunate few, managed to slip over the right border to safety. And on the other side of the world it may be right that, as George Bowering put it, people in British Columbia think in terms of geography rather than history.8 But it might just be that, in certain places at certain times, geography is history.

below: Tim Sharp. Chain Reaction | Gunter Chain (66 feet/22 yards/20 metres), car paint, padlocks, keys, red cable ties. Installation view in the former Kartographisches Institute, Vienna, 2010. Chain Reaction is a piece developed from a Gunter’s chain, a measuring device named after its inventor and used by surveyors for measuring land (primary triangulation) from the seventeenth until well into the twentieth centuries. It reflects on commodity fetishism, the commodification of land and the shifts of power and culture that result.

1 Edney, Matthew H. Mapping an Empire: The Geographical Construction of British India 1765-1843. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999 2 Vattel, de Emmeric. The Law of Nations, Switzerland, 1758 3 Merivale, Herman. Lectures on Colonisation and Colonies, 1841. 4 Spence, Thomas, William Ogilvie, Thomas Paine, M Beer. The Pioneers of Land Reform, 1775. 5 Brody, Hugh. The Other Side of Eden: Hunter-gatherers, Farmers and the Shaping of the World. Vancouver: Douglas & McIntryre, 2001 6 Thompson, E P. Whigs and Hunters: The Origins of the Black Act. London: Breviary Stuff Publications, 2013. 7 Hyde; Lewis. The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World (1979). New York: Vintage, 2007. 8 Bowering, George. Bowering’s B.C.: A Swashbuckling History. Toronto: Penguin Canada, 1997.

On the establishing of borders through oral testimony, see Joshua Craze’s discussion of border disputes in Abeyi, on the South Sudan Sudan border, with court cases citing colonial

registration documents and hand-drawn maps of questionable accuracy. ‘Under the Soil, the People. On Site review 29:Geology 2013

Ti m S ha r p

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S W: see Dustin Valen’s extended discussion of park evictions in ‘On the merits of bad behaviour’, this issue of On Site review, p 12

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a place of gods, alligators, sacrifices and latent destruction

f ea r d a n ger geo lo gy t o u ris m d rea ms

geology | danger by novka cosovic

You can feel and hear the buzzing if you concentrate, like the humming of an old fluorescent light in a blank room. Restless for 11,000 years, the Conception volcano outputs a busy waveform all over Ometepe Island. Volcanic power courses through the land like a wave of voltage. Energy is all around you in the middle of Lake Nicaragua. 4000 years ago, the Nahua people travelled from north to south to find their holy land. Their prophets had told them that somewhere there would be an island formed by two (ome) volcanoes (tepelt) – their new place for sanctuary and peace. Yet, the island was circled by piranhas, large-tooth sawfish, alligators, crocodiles and bull sharks, making the Nahuas vulnerable in the food chain.

The taxi driver takes you down a long narrow dirt road. The vertical view is framed with mango trees and billboards, some written in Mandarin, some in Spanish: Hotel! Coming Soon! At the end of the dirt road, there is a sand pathway. The Punta JesĂşs Maria is an extension of the land; a narrow one kilometre strip of black sand that stretches into the dark water. The pathway is so narrow that you are nearly walking on water as you get to the middle of the lake. Half way along you hear the taxi driver and some local construction workers screaming. You quickly turn around; they are screaming at you and at a moving object near the beginning of the trail. It is an alligator. This is how the alligators trap their prey. You are its lunch. Luckily, the taxi driver, once a FSLN soldier, pulls out his gun and points it at the predator. Aware, the alligator slowly crawls back into the lake. But you still see its one-metre-long head lurking in the water as you continue to walk down the path.

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No vka Co s o vi c

A nd r e s U B a u t i s t a


You kick the sand and see a pink object in mid-air, catching the sunlight. It is a two-inch spearhead made of jade – an ancient weapon – probably used against the ancestors of that exact same alligator. You kick some more sand because you hope luck is on your side. Instead, you find pieces of black clay with red streaks on them. It reminds you of the same pottery made by the Nahua currently displayed in the Ometepe Museum, once a tobacco factory during the Spanish colonial era.

The trail is full of hidden treasures. When you reach the end of the pathway, you take one last good look because you know this will no longer exist. The trail will disappear after they build the canal, the canal that will cut through the lake, split Nicaragua in half and join the two oceans. The alligator may not survive the construction because it only lives in fresh water. You make your way back to the island, towards the volcano. As you run, you repeatedly turn your head around and frantically hop for fear of the alligator charging at your ankles.

19 On Site review 33: intentional landscapes, inadvertent results

No vka Co s o vi c A nd r e s U B a u t i s t a


The taxi driver is anxious. He greets you, but you wonder where he keeps his gun. As he juggles with three cell phones all simultaneously ringing, you notice that his hands are swollen and powerful. His knuckles are permanently disarticulated and do not align. He drives a Toyota 4 X 4. A decal on his rear window says The Punisher. On the road, going at 100 miles per hour, the taxi driver shouts against the wind: “See that huge brown stain on the volcano? That was the mark of a mudslide a few months back.” On the other side of the road, there is a clear field – no trees, no shrubs, no homes, no life. The mudflow was man-made.

Ometepe supplies coffee beans and plantains to Nicaragua and Central America from its rich volcanic soil. Demand for food products is always high, so bigger farmlands and plantations climbed further up the slopes, making it almost impossible for the volcano to support such sizeable platforms. Eventually the land collapsed due to a heavy rainfall; the mudflow killed over 50 people in their sleep. Apart from the ravages of Spanish colonialism, Nicaragua has never seen such destruction of the land as this response to capitalism by the natural forces of Ometepe. You arrive in Charco Verde. It is a nature reserve for howler monkeys, armadillos and a spectrum of tropical birds and butterflies. It is also regarded as one of the most sacred spots of the whole of Central America. The Nahuas thought they could destroy or at least tame the energy of the volcanoes. They would practice rituals, such as human sacrifice, for the volcano gods. As you walk through the forest, you realise that you walk on the exact same path where victims were once dragged towards Concepción Volcano. The path that you walk was once a death row.

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A n dre s U B au ti s ta


You remember, years ago sitting in front of the television watching a Mickey Mouse cartoon on a Saturday morning. Goofy is stranded on a volcanic island. He thinks that he is in paradise; he sways and sleeps on a hammock all day, with an angry volcano spewing ash in the background. Eventually, the natives capture Goofy, thinking that he is a White God whose purpose is to be sacrificed. To appease their gods, the natives swing Goofy and toss him into the volcano. As he falls in, he still has his goofy smile. You laugh so hard that cereal and milk squirts out of your nose. But you are not laughing now. It is plus 35 degrees Celsius and you have goosebumps. And you wonder why Disney sanctioned Goofy being tossed in the volcano as a human sacrifice. This, at one time, was Ometepe. Despite the man-eating alligators and erupting volcanoes, the natives never wanted to leave the island – it was a paradise (and still is). They felt they could only survive by gratifying the volcano’s hunger for their people; the role of the most beautiful women and the strongest men of Ometepe was to produce children for sacrifice.

On the shore, you see tourists practising their yoga poses; Ometepe is also known for yoga retreats. While having dinner or taking a stroll, you will always be bothered by expat yogis and their pamphlets: Partake in daily Naam Yoga in beautiful Ometepe, one of Central America’s finest and majestic landscapes! You take a step back and look at it all. Nodding, you will say: this is perhaps one of the most beautiful places that I have ever been in all of my life. But how could anyone find serenity with the volcano’s humming noise in the background or the subtle creepiness that crawls behind your neck, or a man-made mudslide that will eat you in seconds or an angry Alligator God who is about to latch onto your ankles and drag you into the depths of Lake Nicaragua?

After walking through the jungle, you arrive at Charco Verde’s lagoon. The water is algae-infested and remarkably green. Legends say that this is the place where gods and sacrificers would pee (Xistletoet in Nahuatl) before making their way to Concepción Volcano.

21 On Site review 33: intentional landscapes, inadvertent results

A n dre s U B au ti s ta


f r a c ta l l a n d s c a p e s hills by graham hooper

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t ra d it ion p la y t yp olog y e p he m e ra lit y inst a b ilit y

G r a ha m Hoop e r

On Site review 33: intentional landscapes, inadvertent results

22

In 1967 Jimi Hendrix recorded ‘Castles Made of Sand’ for his Axis: Bold as Love album. Lyrically it is quite unusual in its autobiographical reference to the transience of life and ephemeral nature of existence – family, love, loyalty, and to Hendrix’s life in particular – moving home in his youth, maternal attachment issues. Perhaps in America the idea of castles made of sand is an altogether alien idea: beaches are for surfing maybe? Whilst Big Sur has the sand it lacks the medieval architecture. Likewise whilst Bavaria might have better castles, other locations boast superior beaches. Small plastic primary-coloured British buckets, are used as moulds for making sand forms in the shape of castles, those fine stately homes of the past that dot the English landscape –some of which, often under National Trust management, are open for the public to marvel at their splendour; other castles, at the mercy of the elements and left to fall into disrepair as a result of the prohibitive costs involved in their upkeep, become mysterious, mythical ruins. For the British, on our sandy beaches, on a sunny, summer’s day, filling a bucket with sand, upending it and tapping its bottom with (matching coloured) spade to release the sheath of plastic, will reveal a cast. Then, traditionally, the sandcastles are decorated with paper flags, moats and seaweed.

In the mid-1990s I took a photograph whilst on a beach at Marazion in Cornwall, looking out at St. Michael’s Mount. The vantage point allowed for a view of the mount in the background as well as a sandcastle ‘replica’ in the foreground. I say replica – but I have emphasised the visual rhyming myself, in my choice of framing. If the child (or adult) making the sand structure was aiming to build a facsimile of the mount behind, then it is crude and inaccurate. But it can hardly of escaped their notice that the sandcastle is sited on a beach in front of a mount that looks a little like a sandcastle. Around the same time I had seen a collection of photographs by the British photographer and scientist, Bill Hurst, at the Untitled Gallery in Sheffield who had drawn visual comparisons between the self-replication of patterns in scale in various constructed and ‘natural environments. Clearly it had resonated. This mount has always been paired (and formally since the eleventh century) with Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy. It has the same tidal island characteristics and the same conical shape. In this sense the sandcastle I saw that day and photographed, reflects this pairing. They are sisters, separated in space and size, but connected in spirit, material and form.


When the tide is out it is possible, for a limited period of time at least, to walk to it from the shore. Many tourists and the 35 people who live on the Mount do just that. It’s a strange sensation, to make that five-minute crossing along the man-made causeway. That may be due in part to the fact the mount was once surrounded by trees, a now long-submerged hazel wood. The historic local name for the mount is literally ‘the grey rock in a wood’. One is put in mind of Robert Macfarlane’s walk across The Broomway, another tidal path over the Maplin Sands to Foulness Island (nicknamed The Doomway as it is allegedly Britain’s deadliest path) though in reality it is not at all isolated or dangerous. St. Michaels Mount, I understand, is one of 43 tidal unbridged islands around the United Kingdom accessible on foot from shore. I’m not entirely sure whether it is it a mount or an island really. The word ‘mount’ is suggestive, as a verb, of an ascent, of fixing to a support, or of organising, preparing and setting in motion an event (such as a walk); one mounts a horse, mounts an attack and mounts a play. Islands, on the other hand, feel as though they not only are, but should have always been, surrounded by water, whilst a mount at least feels as though it would be situated on (or in)land. There is a risk that this mount, like much of the Cornish coast, is vulnerable to flooding, even submergence, with rises in sea water level and natural erosion. Sand doesn’t make the best building material precisely because, even on quite small scales, it is so easily washed away. However, the quality varies greatly from beach to beach, some being sharper or more gritty. But by far the greatest determinant in successful sandcastle construction is the moisture level of the sand itself – too dry and it risks dispersal in the wind, too wet and you precipitate the inevitable collapse-under-its-own-weight. Sandcastles – scaled up versions of the beach variety – would never work as human dwellings, though they would be fun and cheap presumably. We could

all be kings and queens, build our own homes and even live with a sea view. And imagine entire office blocks, built by their own work force, communally and all in a day. Would we behave as we do on beach holidays (playful and carefree) or fear imminent structural collapse? The fact that these structures are so ephemeral is their magic and their tragedy. Oddly enough constructions created in sand on beaches are called castles regardless of whether or not they are citadels. They have a mediæval fortified form with their moats, keeps and towers with crenellations, the result of the buckets used as a moulds. The particular, slightly conical shape of a bucket that allows the packed sand to be easily released from the bucket mould is better able to sustain its own weight. The forms that maintain the mark of their builders’ hands (sandcastles made without buckets, instead through scooping sand) are especially pleasing I think, where the little hands have patted the surface solid and smooth. And I am touched by the ones whose forms have softened in the wind, mid-demise, still retaining their paper flags and seaweed decorations. Castles have associations in the imagination and references in history; knights in shining armour, stranded princesses and dragons are the source of many a child’s fantasies. They allow for the mental investigation of escape and capture, safety and risk, alongside learning about tides and flows, depth and height, modelling and construction. The sandcastle I recorded on film that day will no longer exist, washed away by tide, if not already destroyed under a child’s foot hours or even minutes after my photograph was taken. But it will be have been replicated, time and again, by countless others since then, all under the shadow of its big sister, just 500 metres away, or its topographic counterpart, 200 miles away, across the sea. As Jimi sang, “so castles made of sand, fall in the sea, eventually”.

23 This could lead into a discussion of the authenticity of our representation of landscape (goes back to Desiree’s piece on national parks) referring to Walter Benjamin’s ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’. A completely different direction – food for thought!

M H: this makes me think of Bachelard’s ‘poetics of space’ – the miniature and magical worlds in the nooks and crannies of our homes, or the fractal islands and the matter of sand and sea that inhabit the corners of the land. I can’t help comparing this to Troel’s memory maps – here are two examples of how we might frame the land in our minds. Troel draws maps of Aarhus in a rational tradition, Graham paints a picture of the Cornwall beach for us through free association, shifting between scales of geographic landform and microscopic matter.

S W: On our coast, the eastern side of Vancouver Island beaches were thick with driftwood logs and seaweed: these were the building materials to make forts rather than castles. Is it because we didn’t have St Michael’s Mount as a guide? Canada doesn’t have castles, but it does have forts. Is it the building materials that lead to form, or is the naming the thing that leads to form? A castle is a castle, even in ruin; a Hudson’s Bay fort is a fort, even in a national park.

On Site review 33: intentional landscapes, inadvertent results

A O’C: I love the contrast between the whimsy of the sand castle – constructions, imagination and impermanence, and the mount. The connection between the sand castle and the mount is in ways of seeing, or representing landscape, rather than material or geologic references. Perspective and perception is so critical in landscape, as is representation, and I found an interesting dialogue here between the mount, the romanticised sand castle and moat, and the photograph of the two together.


h is t o r y in t erp ret a t io n in t er v en t io n la n d s ca p e p o s s es s io n

the naturalising of a nation­­­ definitions | tenure and ownership by d e s i r é e va l a d a r e s

the tonic of wildness Cultural constructs of North American identity have long hinged on wilderness, the mythology of uninhabited nature, and the vastness of a virgin landscape. The idea of national parks as spaces of ecological purity and sources of national pride relate to the search for an authentic and unspoiled landscape. In 1995, William Cronon stirred controversy with his article, ‘The Trouble with Wilderness, or Getting Back to the Wrong Nature’. He declared the time had come to rethink the very notion of wilderness which had served as the unexamined foundation on which so many of the quasireligious values of modern environmentalism rest. Wilderness environmentalism originated with ideology embedded in two intellectual movements: the Romantic Sublime and the Post-Frontier (Primitivist) philosophy. Western preconceptions of nature underwent sweeping changes in the nineteenth century; environmental philosophers — Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, John Muir and Aldo Leopol and painters such as George Catlin from the Hudson River School (1820-1880), were instrumental in shaping cultural values and attitudes toward wilderness conservation. Their collective sentiments loosely informed The Wilderness Act of 1964, a historically important event in American environmental politics —

to enshrine vignettes of a primitive America symbolic of a oncevirgin land. For Canada and the United States, the acquisition of territory for the creation of national parks remains a complex and deeply contested narrative that is virtually neglected. It is often overshadowed by the cultural rhetoric of wilderness, ecological integrity and associated landscape aesthetics – the picturesque, sublime and pastoral. Park histories often minimise race, class and gender consequences in order to promote national parks as a physical and political construction of the nation-state and as an imagined national unity that further silences alternative and difficult histories, including the bitter, emotional conflict and contentious debates over land use in heritage sites, protected areas and conservation districts.

”A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognised as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammelled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.”

Sociologist Joe Hermer describes the ‘emparkment’ of nature associated with the creation of North American national parks as a vivid paradox. Conservation policy typically excluded the inhabitation of these landscapes and managed encroachment by strict law enforcement. This ‘pleasure ground ideal’ emerged not only from a twentieth-century tourist culture but was also deeply embedded in the institutions of colonialism

The Wilderness Act of 1964 became a powerful legislative instrument to memorialise America’s wilderness heritage and

dispossessing the wilderness “The rude, fierce settler who drives the savage from the land lays all civilized mankind under a debt to him…It is of incalculable importance that America, Australia and Siberia should pass out of the hands of the red, black and yellow aboriginal owners and become the heritage of the dominant world races” —Theodore Roosevelt. The Winning of the West, 1904

On Site review 33: intentional landscapes, inadvertent results

24 R Js: the issue is big and broad, and the history, so often charted as beginning with Yellowstone, seems to me to be longer. Displacement, hunting restrictions, rhetoric of cultural superiority - echos of these policies for the control of wild spaces go back to feudal principles of land ownership under which hunting becomes characterised as something done for sport rather than sustenance. It is an understanding of wilderness as a place of leisure, of its maintenance for the purpose of the pursuit of pleasures associated

with a restrictive idea of civilisation. In North America, and elsewhere (but especially here, the US being the country that invented the national park) these expectations about the purpose of uncultivated land encounter mythic, landscape-driven ideas of national identity (westward expansion, explorational legacies) and policies of displacement and genocide that free up vast swathes of previously inhabited territory to become ‘proper’ wilderness - land of leisure, away from the ‘human’ landscapes of city, town, and farm.

But into these initial assumptions go a string of competing policies that take the wilderness and divide it up. Out of them you get, variously, crown lands, Z.E.C, provincial parks, national parks, designated wilderness areas (Canada), national parks, state parks, national forests (US, sample designations). S W: There is a history of land transfer in Canada between Department of Indian Affairs, Parks Canada and Department of Defence: reserves were established by treaty, but a lot of reserve land was requisitioned during

WWI and never returned. It either sat as DND land, or shifted to national or even provincial park land. First Nations protests during the 1990s often revolved around reclaiming reserve land (a slightly different issue from land claims where no reserve had been established yet). The Sarcee Reserve (now the Tsuu T’ina First Nation) attached to southwest Calgary had a portion appropriated by DND in 1915 for Camp Sarcee, which existed as such, a full Canadian Forces base, until its transfer back to the Sarcee Reserve after a long battle in the mid1990s.


Forillon National Park, Quebec

De s i r é e Va l a d a r e s

25 deals with a more crowded settlement landscape and so the acquiring of land from individual landholders is an issue. It was a bit different in the west as park or defence status preceded settlement. M T: I have thought about the national park system in the US as a sort of sterilized nature before but never though much about the exclusivity that comes with it. I spent the weekend at Olympia National Park in Washington state, I noted that large portions of the peninsula were devoted to native lands. There

were historic lodges that supported tourism areas of sparse habitation. This piece makes me realise there are questions about those boundaries and grandfathered settlements. It’s very easy for North Americans to accept the park system as a benevolent one because we pride ourselves on prioritising nature. Defining nature isn’t something most people do. This piece lays the groundwork for readers to be critical of that system. A M: a reference: Giuseppe Licari through his intervention raises

questions on the origins and the ‘ownership’ of the Tuscan landscape. He brings attention to the fact that the landscape praised for its natural qualities is actually designed, then protected and left to the forces of nature. A O’C: I think this question of wilderness, parks, and the formalisation of structures and ownership within the landscape is very relevant to this discussion. Similar to Stephanie’s comparison of Maritime and western national parks in Canada, the formation of national

On Site review 33: intentional landscapes, inadvertent results

Desiree mentions that US national parks excluded aboriginal people: surely this is an issue of ownership and how the land was divvied up for settlement. I don’t know about the US, but for Canada who was assigned what land seems to have been conducted in the abstract in Ottawa between various administrative departments. And as it was all one government, it is almost as if it was seen as nominal Crown land, ‘leased’ out to either First Nations, the Canadian Armed Forces or Parks Canada. Desiree’s discussion, being in the Maritimes,


and Western power, failing to recognise ‘wilderness’ as ancestral and often sacred homelands for indigenous aboriginal peoples who were viewed as an unfortunate blight and an affront to the sensibilities of tourists. Policies of aboriginal displacement gained traction in the founding of America’s first national parks, namely Yosemite, Yellowstone and Glacier, from the 1870s until the 1930s. These established precedents for the exclusion of native peoples from other holdings within the national parks system in the rest of North America. The rhetoric of cultural superiority, which stemmed from feudal principles of land ownership, resulted in the placing of differential values on the landscape and consequently, the study of national parks is one way to understand the evolving framework of the Canadian state, conservation thought and practice and its political character.

conservation-induced displacement While the establishment of national parks in Canada had adverse consequences for First Nations, Inuit and Métis land, hunting, fishing and timber rights, other groups were also affected. Land exchanges and expropriations of private landholdings as a park-creation tool, particularly in Canada’s Atlantic provinces, was revealed by Boyce Richardson in his 1985 National Film Board documentary For Future Generations which profiled growing opposition to expropriation in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The creation of Cape Breton Highlands National Park (1936), Prince Edward Island (1937), Fundy (1948), Terra Nova (1957) and Kejimkujik (1960) left many landowners with no choice but to accept the government’s meagre financial offers and to relocate to nearby communities. Many were angered by the arbitrary way they were treated and forced removals fostered negative relationships for years, sometimes generations. Particularly contentious was the case of Kouchibouguac National Park in New Brunswick where the 1969 expropriations disrupted and dismantled the lives of more than 1,000 Acadians whose families had fished and

farmed the land for generations. Settled communities and villages were uprooted followed by a swift and violent erasure of traces of human habitation despite organised resistance. A year later in 1970, Québec’s first national park, Forillon, also resulted in the forced displacement of over 225 Gaspésiens. Though most signs of human occupation were erased from Forillon National Park, certain buildings and landscapes in the Grande-Grave sector remain to this day. Eventually, Parks Canada’s policy was amended to prohibit the use of expropriation to create or enlarge national parks. Parliament subsequently amended the Canada National Parks Act in 2000 with a similar legislative prohibition. Now, land that is required to establish national parks is acquired only on a willing seller-willing buyer basis. However, policy towards either erasure or preservation of the history of occupation within any national park is not always clear.

peace building and reconciliation In many countries, state-supported cultural heritage management policies pay little attention to difficult histories, preferring to ignore and selectively edit them to tell more comfortable or self-affirming tales to bolster national and community pride. The violent history of dispossession through forced displacement and expropriation, associated with the establishment of Canada’s national parks, was silenced and ignored to hide the less palatable parts of the national park narrative that involved the systematic exclusion of people from their ancestral lands. These unwanted, dark memories were so irreconcilable with the country’s sense of national identity that they were selectively erased from public consciousness. By default, the material heritage testifying to these unsettling events was often physically removed, neglected and over time, obliterated entirely from public view and civic space. As a result, these distorted narratives and sensitive histories prove to be challenging to interpret and reconcile due to their potential to further constrain, disadvantage and oppress already silenced and marginalised groups.

On Site review 33: intentional landscapes, inadvertent results

26 parks and national forests on the east coast of the US was more challenging than in the west given the extensiveness of settlement. Large continuous areas were really only possible after passing the Weeks Act in 1911 (providing fed funds for the purchase of land for National Forests), and allowing the use of eminent domain for the purpose of creating recreational land. I am interested in the piece from a landscape history perspective, and how the cultural rhetoric of national parks/wilderness has influenced the development

of landscape. There is a question of authenticity in national parks, as the image and narrative they present is selectively curated by (in the US) the National Park Service, which effectively operates as an historic preservation agency. The NPS has historically maintained and preserved sites and landscapes to present their own interpretation of the correct, or authentic, or popular moment in history (natural or human) for any particular site. As Desiree points out, the danger in this is the overlooked history and culture that falls outside

of the NPS rhetoric, although reparative efforts may begin to bridge those forgotten/ neglected histories. In addition to the erasure of cultural history, this selection and maintenance of the authentic history can have ecological implications. Preservation of this frozen-in-time moment is at odds with the dynamic nature of landscape, and over longterm application can have detrimental effects on the stability of ecological systems. Related to Ania’s reference to Licari’s work, one very interesting point in North American

landscape history I find is this romanticised notion of wilderness, and the untouched landscape, and how effective this has been at shaping the national landscape identity. Licari references how thoroughly constructed the landscape of Tuscany is, although it is praised for its natural beauty. Early settlers in North America often failed to recognise the effects and traces of long-term extensive land management by aboriginal people. When we look at a landscape and consider it to be wild and untouched, we often don’t see the evidence of human intervention


Parks Canada’s recent nation-wide reconciliation efforts to acknowledge expropriated citizens through official apologies, special access passes and commemorative memorials reflect changing Canadian attitudes toward wilderness. This has been an opportunity for environmental peace-building initiatives that integrate natural resource management with conflict prevention, mitigation, resolution, reconciliation, redress and recovery to build resilience in communities affected by loss and displacement, trauma and conflict. In 2010, Parks Canada’s national entry fee was waived for families whose land, now inside a national park, had been subject to regulatory takings and expropriations. The entry pass was an important step towards healing community relations and keeping the memory of these communities alive. In 2011, this measure was expanded to apply to all expropriated owners (including land, lumber lot and cottage owners) to give three generations the right to access cemeteries, former family house sites, expropriation monuments and memorials and to take part in commemorative events organised or supported by Parks Canada. In 2010 the federal government allocated 1.3 million dollars to Kouchibouguac National Park for the ‘enhancement of the visitor experience’, and almost a million dollars to Forillon National Park for a permanent exhibition ‘as a record of the life of the families’ who were expropriated. The House of Commons issued a formal apology to Forillon’s expropriated residents and established a Forillon Expropriated Persons Commemorative Committee in 2011 to actively shape the direction of Forillon’s strategic plan and interpretive strategies.

D e s i ré e Valadare s

and less invasive management practices. It is significant though to highlight the contrast between North American and European landscape - which are two very different conditions. European being highly cultivated, and North American being more ‘wild’ for lack of a better term!

This article is a very brief summary of Desirée’s major project at McGill University: ‘Symbolic Restitution, Material Reparations and the Politics of Reconciliation: Managing the Extant Vernacular Architecture and Cultural Landscapes of Expropriated Communities in Forillon National Park, Québec’, 2015

27 On Site review 33: intentional landscapes, inadvertent results

National parks serve as a microcosm of the history of conflict and misunderstanding that has long characterised the unequal power relationships between dominant state-building legislation and more vulnerable native and local populations. To remain both truthful and relevant, national parks must reconsider changing perceptions and frame themselves within the broader canon of social, cultural, political and environmental histories. National parks have the potential to be common ground and an arena to resolve and mend broken relationships with peoples who once inhabited and tended to these lands.


romanticising the Canadian hinterland urban identities disjunctions by m at t n e v i l l e

id en t it y u rb a n is m n o rd icit y myt h o lo gies d en ia l

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Matt Neville

On Site review 33: intentional landscapes, inadvertent results

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The topic of landscape is overwhelming. Ruminating on the word floods the mind with all of its meanings and applications – far-reaching, often meaningless, always subjective. The diversity of essays in this issue demonstrates the range of the term. Reading Desiree Valadares’s essay ‘Dispossessing the Wilderness’ on page 24 of this issue, I find it difficult to reconcile the landscape images I most often see of Canada – often of our National Parks – and what I experience. I’m left wondering – why is our physical, common – or national – landscape not urban in nature? Regardless of definition, Canada, as one of the world’s largest politically-defined land masses and culturally-diverse population, is rich in landscapes. From the picturesque wild of our National Parks to the often grotesque results of resource extraction, the Canadian landscape means something to both Canadians and to people beyond our borders. In her essay, Valadares eloquently points out that the “cultural constructs of North American identity have long hinged on wilderness, the mythology of uninhabited nature, and the vastness of the American landscape“1.

Canada is often envisioned as wilderness, yet such representations of a national landscape are vastly different from what most of us experience and inhabit. We are, after all, a country of (sub)urban dwellers, with 80-90 percent of the country’s inhabitants living and working in an urbanised region (and more than half of urban dwellers concentrated in either Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver). In his 1926 ‘Manifesto for a National Literature’, literary scholar Lionel Stevenson noted that “the primordial forces are still dominant” in Canada; as a result “Canadian art is almost entirely devoted to landscape, Canadian poetry to the presentation of nature.”2 Today, this mythology remains strong, yet our common history is one of nation building, urban migration and urbanisation. Walter Pache, the late German literary scholar, once commented that urban writing in Canada is ubiquitous, yet elusive – an observation as relevant to Canadian literature as it is to the notion of Canadian urbanism.2 It is little wonder why the concept of Canadian urbanism is so weak, when our real and representative landscapes are so far detached from one another.


Matt Neville

Paradoxically, with a mere 3.3 persons per square kilometre, Canada has one of the lowest population densities on the planet – suggesting that it is very much a non-urban nation. With more than 75 percent of Canadian clustered within 150 kilometres of the US border, there is a very real great expanse above – the true Great White North – which only a small percentage of citizens have ever actually experienced. And despite being so far removed from the North, its impact on Canadians and their image of the country cannot be overstated. Perhaps it is this overarching notion of nordicity and of a large empty hinterland beyond the city skyline that makes the truism of urbanity more difficult for most Canadians to accept.

29 On Site review 33: intentional landscapes, inadvertent results

Less than 20 percent of Canadians live in non-urban environments, yet political discourse, policy and patterns of urban development are often rural-centric, and, in some cases, blatantly anti-urban. Over the past three decades, the trend of municipal amalgamation of towns and villages with large areas of non-urban land, suggests “a denigration of the urban, reflective of the disdain and indifference with which the city and the urban continue to be treated in the Canadian political system and cultural imaginary”3. In Halifax for example, the City of Halifax is part of a municipal unit of nearly 5,500 square kilometres in size. 75% of people within it, however, live within an urbanised area of less than 300 square kilometres. As we are in a federal election year, it is worth noting that a rural vote in Canada continues to count for more than an urban vote. Canada is a nation of urban dwellers who refuse to accept their urban condition, instead we appear to have a national preoccupation with open green space.


Matt Neville

On Site review 33: intentional landscapes, inadvertent results

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Canadians seem to insist on the “city’s subordination to the natural world”4 and preference for the non-urban, yet in the daily lives of nearly all Canadians, non-urbanism is little more than a myth. But is this sense of identity based on the notion of wild and wilderness – and of nordicity – fading? While immigration to Canada was traditionally dominated by Europeans, today the vast majority are coming from cities in countries that have long experienced a ferocious pace of urbanisation (China, India, Philippines). New Canadians are coming from large cities and settling in a the largest of Canadian cities. Will this change in demographics bring about a new respect for the urban in Canada? Or are they looking for reprieve and will only reinforce the myth? There is a critical need to “assert the centrality of the city and the urban within the Canadian spatial and cultural imaginaries, to help us see the city as a place of Canadian

society and culture”.5 The need for an understanding of the urban as space of possibility, of personal freedom, of opportunity is critical to the overall health of the country. The future of the country is visible in its cities today – our shared physical landscape. This fixation, however, on the non-urban myth may ultimately degrade the overall high-quality of life that Canadian cities are known for today.

SW: When I think of the mythic Canadian wilderness component of our national identity, I think of Northrop Frye, Earle Birney, Margaret Atwood, all writing poetry and literary criticism about the simultaneous fear and fascination Canada has with wilderness. Birney’s poem ‘Bushed’, Atwood’s Survival, based on Frye’s literary reading of the Laurentian thesis: this was the tenor of 1960s and early 1970s identity debates where angloCanada defined itself as not American, and not Quebécois, but something that could make love in a canoe (Pierre Berton’s definition). Strangely, or not so strangely, all these people were deeply urban in culture and geography. It was the beginning of the loss of the family farm, the emptying of prairie small

roots somewhere in their background, and we’d all read Survival. I’ve missed the window where I could drive to Prince Rupert along the now infamous highway 16. It is beautiful, but evil lurks. Is this what it actually means to be urban? to live with this fear not of grizzlies, but of the militia mentality very much alive and well in, for example, BC’s interior valleys. Inner cities seem safer to me these days.

towns - W O Mitchell landscapes of Who Has Seen The Wind, and the seemingly irreversible urbanisation of Canada. I’m not sure when it happened (although rural violence is certainly outlined in Who Has Seen the Wind) but Canada’s rural hinterland is seen today as quite dangerous, even murderous. Meyerthorpe – four Mounties shot in the middle of nowhere, the hundreds of missing or murdered aboriginal women, the Highway of Tears, the murder of the elderly McCanns on their holidays in their RV. My perception of the rural hinterland is that it operates by rules I don’t understand. Perhaps it was delusional to think that urban Canadians ever understood rural rules, but in general most of my generation had rural

1 Valadares, Desiree, ‘Dispossessing the Wilderness’ On Site review 33: on land. 2015 2 Pache, Walter. ‘Urban Writing’. The Encyclopedia of Literature in Canada, edited by W.H. New, . Toronto: University of Toronto Pres, 2002. pp1148-1156 3 Stevenson, Lionel. 1926. Appraisals of Canadian Literature. Toronto: Macmillan, 1926. 4 Edwards, Justin and Douglas Ivison. Downtown Canada: Writing Canadian Cities. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2005. p199 5 Edwards p4

M T: This makes me think of Toronto as Megacity and Rob Ford’s suburban following helping to dismantle the city one subway line at a time. I’ve always liked to think of Vancouver as progressive urbanism, but perhaps that is because it prioritises the park, nature, etc.

I also love stephanie’s comments on safety in the rural environment. My friends from small towns in central Ontario always joke with the Torontonians that “its not safe in the city”. And we do the same to them: “who could hear you scream out here?” When I moved to Beijing I was warned about being safe by people in North America, only to find that the Chinese were very fearful for my safety in the US. “Everyone gets shot there.” I think the xenophobia that polarises urban from rural is a really quirky, interesting conversation. If you have ever experienced it firsthand, it proves Matt’s point that a unifying idea of Canada is not an easy thing to achieve. There is definitely a camp for the urban.


mapping | a p p r o p r i at i o n by sara jacobs

s u r v eys ru in milit a r y s it es b o u n d a ries t o x icit y

August 11, 2015 I am in Wendover, Utah for the month. This is my third full day, and I am feeling a little overwhelmed by all the somethings in the nothingness. Today I went to a place called the Blue Lake, an inland salt marsh managed by the BLM that is inside the arid expanse of the Utah Test Range, an active military site managed by the Department of Defense. There is something to the solitude outside my normal routine that is causing me to think a lot about space and land, but also place and landscape. At first, this place seemed like a blip on the map, empty and only given a name as the result of cartographic engineering. The grid randomly assigns a value without regard for materiality or histories in areas we don’t know or can’t see. In the dry, hot west, we made the unseen a property and then stripped it of its history and economy. We gave it a number and allowed it to be used any which way. Tooele County, S4, W19, Grid 5. Virtue on this side, vice on the other. There are signs along my route warning not to wander off the roads. The ghosts of an unproud history are buried in a place already filled with the extractions and disposals that no one else wanted. Within my small zone of Cartesian benignity, there is a fence that appears to start out of nowhere. It runs in a straight line as far as I can see, as if to delineate a real boundary between two different places. I had read this quote earlier today in a book about downwind military and chemical testing in Utah, and it all felt very full circle.  

1 Nearly one quarter, or 650 million acres of the continental landmass of the United States is part of the public domain. Located mostly west of the 100th meridian, these lands are primarily managed by the Department of the Interior and Department of Agriculture. Nearly 28 million acres, again mostly in the west, are Department of Defense lands. Since 1851 the rectilinear Public Land Survey System (PLSS) has been used to identify and determine land ownership in the United States. Often called the Jeffersonian grid, this system of surveying laid the foundation for city development, but was also applied to distance lands that were unknown and unseen. Public lands management is a contentious political issue, as the administrative boundaries of these lands have been drawn without regard to physical or ecological geographies. The agencies tasked with their management carry a multiple-use mission of simultaneously balancing cultural heritage, productive industry, and ecological conservation to ‘best meet the present and future needs of the American people’.

The army didn’t contain its tests and training to its own ground. A Department of the Interior study shows about 1,400 square miles of public land in Utah is covered with unexploded ordinance, some of it containing nerve agent and germs.1 When walking or riding on BLM land adjacent to military property, it is wise to stick to the road in front of you. You never know where the chemical ghosts of the Cold War may be lurking.2

2 Chip Ward. Canaries on the Rim: Living Downwind in the West. Verso:1999. p101

31 On Site review 33: intentional landscapes, inadvertent results

Also, it is just so austerely beautiful here.

S a r a J a c ob s


We came to the park to get lost – I wanted so badly to be the people in the poster, our tent pitched at the centre of all that space, nothing around us but sky and grass. I’d been daydreaming of this place where I could pick a point on the horizon and walk, aimlessly, into open space. I wanted the thrill of discovering my own sense of place. Among others, I hoped to find it in the park. When Grasslands National Park opened in 2001, it set out to return its visitors to the experience of discovery, as unprescribed and unpolluted as possible. They wanted the public, both local and far-removed, to learn to see the grasslands as a place in itself, rich with complexities to be explored. But restoring this kind of emptiness is no small feat. One of the park’s leading staff members explained it like this: “It’s as if you built a building, something so bewildering people didn’t know how to access it. They couldn’t find the entrance. They think, it’s not for me.” In that soft-spoken candour I was met with throughout Saskatchewan, she admitted that even she’d struggled with the place. It seems there is some primal human skill we have forgotten — to its guests, the park was empty, and we felt out of place. As a result, park management was implementing a grab bag of interventions, including signage, an expansive network of paths and a new fully-serviced campground. This saddens me – after the landscape is framed, its uses and meaning set in place, there won’t be anywhere left to get lost.

On Site review 33: intentional landscapes, inadvertent results

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L indsey Net t e

All this has happened here before. The struggle to make and maintain a sense of place has been at the heart of prairie landscape-making since the whole region was (wrongfully) deemed ‘empty’. Grasslands National Park lies deep inside Palliser’s Triangle – a vast wedge of prairie from the Rocky Mountains eastward along the 49th parallel to southwestern Manitoba. In essence, it’s the land that Palliser bypassed in search of more favourable conditions, establishing a void in our historic consciousness.1 He warned of an empty and barren desert, useless and unfit for settlement.2 But only one idea rang in the ears of those pressing west. It was empty. What followed, in the name of place-making, erased deeply rooted cultures, eradicated entire species and remade one of the largest ecologies on earth. An elaborate spatial and political toolkit to carve up and harness empty space was unleashed on the prairie. The transformation unfolded from something seemingly benign: a post. From east to west, the Dominion Land Survey painfully marked out the prairie in posts – each driven into the ground and left there like a magnet to draw in motion and change. Every two posts drew a line to be staked out with fences and trees, a shoreline where the prairie’s ongoing motion would lap up against a relentless grid. And every four posts made a square – an island to be claimed, absorbed, abandoned, re-made. As an act, to survey is to look closely at something, examine it and understand it. But as a thing, the survey is a rigid and unforgiving geometry laid out over land that will never conform. The survey looks at nothing but itself – blind to the underlying forces that define the place. Over time, its incompatibility with the grassland revealed itself.


Grasslands National Park Saskatchewan mapping | by kite by lindsey nette

sur ve y syst e m s m a p p ing la nd use a g ricult ure a b a nd on

33 On Site review 33: intentional landscapes, inadvertent results

L ind s e y N e t t e


L i nd s e y N e t t e

We came to the park with our own survey in mind, with a compass for finding our own sense of place — it was a homemade kite camera, an old technology new to us. A compass refers to a device used both to draw geometry and to find direction. Ours did neither; more importantly, it gave us a sense of purpose in our explorations. We went out looking for something, even if it was something as elusive as wind, to which we developed a heightened awareness, learning to distinguish wind from a breeze and gusts from steady gales. Here, against the empty space, wind has a presence that is tangible. When we arrived, the ranger was retrieving a shredded flag from a puddle some thirty feet from the mast. We parked and started loading up our packs. He wandered over to welcome us. “Ontario eh?” he smiled, looking at our license plate. He told us about a family, also from Ontario, that had set up camp here a few nights back, then packed it in with the sound of coyotes. “They followed me back to town,” he laughed and shook his head, “Couldn’t take the open space.” We talked about the park, about quicksand and fossils and crested wheatgrass. He kicked at the stuff, “We can’t control it. It crowds out the native species.” Crested wheatgrass is an invader from Siberia, a trace of the cattle ranches that had been here before. It is the antagonist to his native prairie,

which that morning seemed to disappoint him. Everything was out of place. The grassland wasn’t familiar enough for the young family, and it was looking far too familiar to him. It is a landscape in flux, like the noise between radio frequencies. It isn’t exactly domestic, but not yet all that wild; it isn’t native grassland, but isn’t still a farm. This transformation too, has happened here before.

M H: On page ___, Desiree Valadares chronicles the formation of National Parks in Canada, a “far from innocent” conservation practice that preserves an ideal of the wilderness within boundaries drawn to exclude most human activity. Here, Lindsey tells us what it’s like to visit the preserved wilderness and the “empty” of a national park. Gridded fences mark the prairie and make islands of the wilderness known as parks, hard boundaries that have little to do with the way wild grass actually grows, that are incompatible with prairie ecology. Meanwhile, most

questions are brought to mind with Lindsey’s writing and mapping of the Grasslands National Park, and are amplified against the expansive ‘emptiness’ of the site. This act of viewing is really an individual experience, which I think is critical to the more singular quality of scenic landscapes. Lindsey references the Dominion Land Survey, the overlaid grid, as a way of examining, understanding, and ‘seeing’ the site. This incompatible grid, and relentless geometry, provides a reference or marking in an otherwise unmarked landscape. As

It didn’t take long for the grassland to infiltrate the grid – to prove how ill-suited it is to an ecology built on motion and change. The lines of the survey are wearing away, trees dying and fences leaning in the wind. And the squares are dissolving, its owners abandoning them to large-scale farm enterprises or near-worthless hay. The park itself is an archipelago of abandoned farms and ranches interspersed with those still in operation. And everywhere the two uses overstep their boundaries. The thing is, grasslands are indivisible.3 It’s like trying to carve an ocean. Grass is a relentless current that floods every isolated vision of place. It grows in every crack, dominates every void. It thrives in the margins between the places we force, and those that evolve. The park, just like every ranch or farm, is fighting the current – nobly trying to throw a net around its vision of prairie.

On Site review 33: intentional landscapes, inadvertent results

34 visitors to the park have never cultivated their instinct to learn about emptiness: the paths we can take in the park, the things we can do here, the ways to understand its ecology and its significance, are increasingly predefined for humans at a park. Lindsey’s camera kite, which defies land boundaries and signed paths, gives us a whole other glimpse of the wilderness besides the one put forth by Parks Canada. A O’C: How do we move through, experience, and reference scale within landscape? These

she describes, to survey, as an act, is to see. The article illustrates the author’s way of surveying and seeing the site. Fundamentally, the act of surveying is the act of measuring, and in this case, marking the landscape. The use of markers and measurements as a tool for seeing the landscape has been a popular study amongst certain artists, whose explorations I think are relevant to the discussion, although they explore this experiential response through more formal intervention. The article brings to mind Walter di Maria’s


It finds itself in a moment where not only its guests struggle to find a sense of place, but it too struggles to hold on to one. It has an opportunity that is hard come by today – to re-survey, rediscover and remake a place. Our trip lasted a few weeks, and when we returned home we printed 300 photos from the kite camera. Flipping through all those aerial shots, I started to see a landscape very different from the rigid lines of the grid. The camera had been tossed around in the wind, capturing disorienting images at random. There was no horizon, no sense of scale – only texture, colour and motion. You can get lost in this landscape. The photos reveal something else too – something about us. Our little blue tent, which looked so surreal against the open grass, was pitched next to a tree – next to a patch of trees growing in mowed grass. We hadn’t made it to the middle of all that space with nothing around us but sky and grass. We’d held fast to the familiar and hovered at the edge of all that emptiness. The park management had been right. The park does need something to mediate between guests and the place. The question isn’t whether to intervene, but how. How can they make lines that move, paths that change, boundaries that breathe? What are the tools of their survey? I don’t have an answer. But I have a compass. And I think that’s where I’d start. 35 Unlike the tree in the grassland that offered orientation and comfort, the experience within the field is quite disorienting despite the rigid regularity of the poles. Similar to Lindsey’s motivations, people come to the Lightning Field to get lost, and yet the most worn path traces the perimeter of the site, circumscribing the grid of poles and maintaining a navigable position at the edge. This goes back to the park management’s need to superimpose a system of trails, and mode of entry into the place. Our attraction to this

L i nd s e y N e t t e

1 John Palliser was an Irish geographer that led a western Canadian expedition for the British Government in 1857. Palliser’s Triangle is the region roughly outlined by his route. 2 Palliser, John. The Papers of the Palliser Expedition, 1857-1860, edited by Irene M. Spry, Toronto: The Champlain Society, 1968. 3 Manning, Richard. Grassland: The History, Biology, Politics, and Promise of the American Prairie. New York: Penguin Books, 1997.

romantic idea of the flat, empty landscape seems to contradict our trained spatial recognition that looks for order and reference.

On Site review 33: intentional landscapes, inadvertent results

Lightning Field, which uses marking as a tool in a similar way to shape an individual’s experience, reading and reception of landscape. The stainless steel rods provide a marker in the landscape, a reference, that has no impact on the function of the site, and yet completely transforms a visitor’s reading and evaluation of the site, not to mention one’s awareness of oneself within the site. Di Maria explicitly dictated that the experience should be an individual one, defining the ratio of people to space by limiting the number of visitors.


from the landmarks series

typology | o p p o rt u n i t i e s by dillon marsh

t errit o r y a p p ro p ria t io n regis t ra t io n s o ciet y f a mily

On Site review 33: intentional landscapes, inadvertent results

36

Di l l on M a r s h


In the vast barren landscapes of the southern Kalahari, sociable weaver birds assume ownership of the telephone poles that cut across their habitat. Their burgeoning nests are

at once inertly statuesque and teeming with life. The twigs and grass collected to build these nests combine to give strangely recognisable personalities to the otherwise inanimate poles.

37 On Site review 33: intentional landscapes, inadvertent results Di l l on M a r s h


remediation consequences exposed

h is t o r y remed ia t io n n a rra t iv e t ru t h d en ia l

r e c l a m at i o n | re-greening by leanna lalonde

Impressions of Sudbury are intimately linked to landscape. Like an archive, the ground is a repository of the events, both geologic and anthropogenic, that transform it. The most significant work operates at the surface in what can be discerned, most explicitly through sight. Once a trackless wilderness of tall red and white pine, quick and successive waves of human activity stripped Sudbury of its vegetation revealing extensive rock surfaces, stained black by sulphurous smog. Negative perceptions of these surficial qualities obscured the complexity and value of affected communities as ‘lived in’ places, reducing them to icons of dereliction and decay. These surficial qualities are also superficial, concerned with the immediately apparent, perceived without any depth. When, in 1971, two Apollo 16 astronauts visited Sudbury, the common view was that the landscape was a proxy for the lunar landscape to prepare the astronauts for stark environmental conditions. This misinterpretation solidified a narrative that cast the city as categorically ugly, hostile and unhealthy in the minds of visitor and resident alike. As the basis upon which people act and react, narrative and image are as consequential as material reality; environmental crisis is as much a problem of narrative and the imagination as it is technology or science. As a signifying system, landscape and the ground surface is a means of communicating narrative – a medium through which truth is revealed, seeing is believing, but which also is infinitely malleable and susceptible to manipulation. Any given ‘truth’ might be an endeavour in selectivity, narrow and restrictive. As a beloved narrative, the Edenic garden generally falls into two categories that establish ‘right’ models of behaviour in our relationship with the natural world. The first exhorts people to transform the wilderness ‘back’ to garden by taming and controlling undeveloped unruly and rugged nature into a state of civility and order. The second condemns humans for polluting and destroying nature. Contemporary environmentalism has grown out of this second interpretation; land reclamation finds its genesis in the admission of guilt for a scorched and endangered earth, and recompense for the loss of an intact and pristine natural environment. Sudbury’s specific recovery narrative begins in 1978, building compelling images of the compensatory value of nature against the harsh realities of the region. Regreening was a prescription of lime, fertiliser and grass seed that produced a cover of green that relieves – even eliminates, the impression of a devastated landscape.

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Le an n a L alo n de


facing page, top: Slag Dump, Sudbury 2013. View from Big Nickel Mine Drive at Old Highway 144 below: Sand Pit Lake, Sudbury 2013. View of the reclaimed slag heaps from Big NIckel Mine Drive

this page, top: Vale’s new Totten Mine sited near an old collapsed Worthington mine shaft below: View from Bay Street Overpass towards a railway bridge crossing Highway 17, demonstrating the straight lines blasted into the Canadian Shield

In 2003 after 25 years of Sudbury’s Land Restoration program, the city asked citizens to say what the regreening program meant to them. The theme and template, a ‘thin green line’, was provided as “a reflection of the ongoing work required to ensure that diverse self-sustaining ecosystems replace barren land” and “of the rather fragile relationship between the regreening hillsides and the physical state of the soil, the air and the water” in the city.1 The commonly used ‘thin red line’ figuratively denotes a point of no return, a line drawn in the sand – a limit beyond which safety is no longer guaranteed’; the thin blue line refers to law enforcement officers who stand between good and bad. Thus, the thin green line is more than a statement on health, it is the new morality, negotiating the “uncomplicated choice between natural things, which are good, and unnatural things, which are bad.” 2 As a result, conventions of land reclamation have become a master narrative unquestioned by anyone except those who are necessarily aligned with destructive anthropocentric and other opportunistic forces. William Cronon explains that in this way, “Nature becomes our dogma, the wall we build around our own vision to protect it from competing views. And like all dogmas, it is the death of dialogue and self-criticism”.3 Eric Cazdyn has identified an intersection with medicine, relevant to Sudbury’s regenerative image, as a period called the ‘new chronic’. 4 Although regreening and restoration may be perceived as a cure, Cazdyn’s theory relegates it to a prescriptive meantime. It begins with healing the city’s scars rather than deepening them, but progressively deals with the easier to manage symptoms of a complicated and ongoing relationship between industry, community and environment. Sudbury’s industrial sector remains active and new technology is rediscovering untapped potential at historic mine sites – the narrative of ‘healing’ detracts from these and other potentially meaningful agendas. Abandoned and hazardous mine sites are only just finding their way into current reclamation strategies, while urban brownfield sites, ageing infrastructure, disappearing heritage and below-average human health still negatively affect the city. Although the community has no independent public accounting of the social costs of the mining industry,5 a declining ratio of barren to recovered land satisfies the city’s narrative that to make green equals health, although this is neither true, nor even representative of the whole truth.

39 On Site review 33: intentional landscapes, inadvertent results L e a nna L a l ond e


top: The Four Corners, July 2013. View of the Regent and Paris Street intersection from the parking lot of Southridge Mall’ below: Children’s playground, Corsi Hill, Sept. 2013.. New development sites at the top of flattened hills. Great heaps of construction debris and blasted rock form an informal playscape foregrounded by a generic swing set and plasticised nature-scape.

David Leadbeater takes a particularly strong position towards these issues, stating that Sudbury is in a state of chronic crisis deeper and longer term than the usual boombust resource town formula. What is at risk by perpetuating the image of regreening is a future of more provocative and radical possibilities. Aesthetics are bound up in a battle over the image of society – what is permissible to show, to say and to do in the current social order. A critique of land reclamation methods and the pervasive nature ideologies that drive them would require establishing value in ‘damaged’ sites as a necessary part of an authentic context. Neil Smith (In the Nature of Cities) states that however perversely, societies make the natural environment in which they live. ‘Nature is manifestly not dead but is incessantly reproduced—in ways we may detest or we may love’.6 What might a spatial strategy not fixated on definitions of health look like? Constrained by the narrative of the Garden of Eden, society is discouraged from thinking outside or against the basic doctrines which govern its ideology. For example, in barren and semi-barren areas significant metal content in the soil inhibits plant regrowth. Highly acidic soil contributes to the absorption of metal particulates by plant life, stunting root growth and ultimately killing all metal-intolerant plant species. In Sudbury’s regreening program, crushed limestone neutralises soil acidity, rendering the metal content insoluble, allowing plants to grow “as if the soil was normal”.7 Where a lack of plant life was once a useful index of contamination, regreening renders this ongoing toxicity invisible. The ‘appearance’ of a convincingly healed landscape suspends criticism that may otherwise generate action. As a counter-result, covering up signs of damage can lead to distrust of scientifically-determined ‘acceptable’ risk. The 2001 Sudbury Soils Study, the largest riskassessment study ever conducted in Canada, estimated whether people working, living or visiting Sudbury were exposed to concentrations of chemicals with the potential for adverse health effects.8 Although the results released in 2008 concluded that elevated heavy metal content in the soil was within an acceptable range, an informal poll showed that 68 percent of respondents in the community were not assured by the study.9 Risk isn’t always an objective phenomenon; there is almost always an aspect of risk that cannot be reduced to formal identification. A denuded landscape has value as an index of toxicity: where risk is visibly manifest people may be granted a degree of control and responsibility over the risk and their fear of it. Hide this risk, and control is abrogated. For now, synonymous with popular perceptions of health, green is morally upheld while rock, stone and slag heap become morally ambiguous, if not inadmissible.

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L e an n a L alo n de


As a whole other issue, in mourning for the loss of dense pine forests, regreening quickly covers vast areas of bare rock; however while this is going on, a defining characteristic of the northern landscape, its geologic structure, is also being replaced by prescriptive ecological stereotypes. With blasting technology no longer just confined to mining, hills and channels are flattened and filled to make way for the rigid and hierarchical urban planning strictures of conventional subdivisions. New Sudbury, a neighbourhood northeast of the historic core, is organised into four perfect quadrants, demonstrating by counter-example the difficulty of redeveloping the old bifurcated downtown where houses follow the contours, finding the easiest places to build tucked up against the base of the hills. New hilltop developments blast enormous amounts of rock to make way for new houses with great views. Although the preservation of hilltops has recently become a focus of the city’s Greenspace advisory panel, so far there is no official stance against this erasure of original topography. Instead of encouraging development of abandoned or derelict land, avoiding development on hilltops altogether, the city advocates hilltop condominium development that reduces footprint and preserves views. Against a background of newly established ‘green’, support for an authentic regional identity could mean establishing connections to contested landforms. Blasted landscapes hold value as authentic places amidst generic (and green) public space. A new ecological paradigm could stimulate dialogue between ecologists, scientists and designers to fully realise a complex human geography that addresses both good and

bad processes in a renewed appreciation of historic value. Reclaimed landscapes are only partial truths, imposing a ‘natural’ heritage on a complex cultural one. Sudbury is often embroiled in contested preservation of its heritage. With little funding available to maintain its built heritage, there has been no concerted effort to develop a heritage plan for the otherwise ‘invaluable’ abandoned mines and town sites that punctuate the landscape. The preservation of barren sites have been considered – one idea was to declare the O’Donnell roast yard, one of only a few roast yards still visible in North America, a UNESCO world heritage site – but it is currently inaccessible on private company property and tours are increasingly rare. Without any effort to physically draw attention to the site it will soon be completely lost to public awareness. Happy Valley may have the least well-known history. A fringe development, occupied by farmers and miners who wanted to live outside the planned Falconbridge Mine townsite, it found itself in the path of gas spewed from the smelter – hazardous to both vegetation and residents. To mitigate the effects on the community, compromises were made to reduce days of operation, but when that became unsustainable, the company purchased Happy Valley land, paid for relocation costs, emptied Happy Valley and carried on operations unhindered. Completely abandoned, the site is closed to the public by a large steel fence.

41 implied that a certain depth of soil with all the bacteria and insects, plus all the plants, was self-sustaining and selfgenerating. Nature can overcome all difficulties was that narrative. If everything is presented as narrative, rather than as science, research and experiments, then we are never allowed to understand what the environment is capable of. This is a very (large C) conservative strategy, to reject science in favour of political wish lists, told as a series of fairy tales. None of it, not the black rocks, not the green stubble, not the sod

laid in the subdivisions, none of it is ‘natural’; it is all manufactured, with differing agendas, different ways to make and spend money. It is odd, Sudbury in the general Canadian imaginary was never a blighted place when I was growing up, and even in the 80s when I drove through it four times a year going to and from Vancouver to Halifax, it had a strange beauty — I did many drawings of the way the highway cut channels though the Canadian Shield, something I only realised when once I climbed up a bare rocky cliff and found the most

On Site review 33: intentional landscapes, inadvertent results

S W: Re-greening is a kind of ecological gentrification: the denigration of poverty, industry and the toxicity of industry in favour of an anodyne suburban landscape where grass is never very long, trees are never very tall and houses are huge. As Leanna points out, the un-greened landscape was a truer indication of long term toxicity. I read a few years ago of Sudbury remediation efforts that took a square metre at a time, half a metre deep from a forest somewhere and transplanted it intact to some blighted bit of the city. It was


below: despite drastic regreening, the Superstack still overwhelms most other traditional (non-mining related) landmarks across the city.

To bring this all full circle, Barbara Misztal (Theories of Social Remembering) states “…without memory…we will have no warnings about potential dangers to democratic structures and no opportunity to gain a richer awareness of the repertoire of possible remedies”.10 The ability to perceive the past is intimately connected to an ability to conceive of the future, only on this basis can a community come to terms with itself, acknowledging both the welcome and the undesirable, the offensive and the satisfying. Landscape can be reframed to dismantle the exclusionary spatial practices of an either/or attitude – either land reclamation or industrial planning – and to liberate the potential of abandoned or derelict landscapes. The serious integration of nature and culture makes landscape an ‘arena of speculation’ without limitations on what it is possible to say, to hear or to do.11 Changing what can be seen – exposing rather than covering – thus becomes a radical act.

1 Stephen Monet. ‘City Launches ‘Thin Green Line’ Contest Celebrating 25 years of Land Reclamation’. Greater Sudbury, Sep. 15, 2003. 2 William Cronon. Uncommon Ground: Toward Reinventing Nature. New York: WW Norton, 1995 p52 3 Ibid p25 4 Eric Cazdyn. The Already Dead, the new time of politics, culture and illness. Durham: Duke University Press, 2012 5 David Leadbeater. Mining Town Crisis: Globalization, Labour and Resistance in Sudbury. Halifax: Fernwood, 2008. p 21 6 Neil Smith. ‘Foreword’ in Heynen, Kaika and Swyngedouw, eds. In the Nature of Cities: Urban Political Ecology and the Politics of Urban Metabolism. London: Routledge, 2006 7 Aaron Pickard. ‘Regreening efforts taking root’ Northern Life, Jan 21, 2012. 8 Christopher Wren. Risk Assessment and Environmental Management: A Case Study in Sudbury, Ontario, Canda. Leiden, Netherlands: Maralte, 2012. p16 9 Bill Bradley. ‘Digging through the Sudbury Soils Study’ Northern Life, June 13, 2008 10 Barbara A. Misztal. Theories of Social Remembering. Maidenhead, Berkshire: Open UP, 2003. 11 An arena of speculation is a term from the literature of the transformation of Israeli structures of domination. In the study of the potential application of physical interventions to open up a horizon for ongoing processes of transformation, an arena of speculation is an architectural tool that incorporates varied cultural and political perspectives through the participation of a multiplicity of individuals and organizations. Eyal Weizman, Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti have an architectural studio in Bethlehem that employs a range of techniques, using architecture as an arena of speculation to deal with how Israeli settlements and military bases could be reused, recycled and re-inhabited by Palestinians. See: Hilal, Petti and Weizman, ‘The Future Archaeology of Israel’s Colonization’ Roulotte, Aprill 2011

Le an n a L alo n de

On Site review 33: intentional landscapes, inadvertent results

42 beautiful smooth, rounded rock plateau, with mosses and flowers in the cracks, lines of pine. It seemed a primeval landscape, very old, very ground down - this was Sudbury and the Shield, a place of some marvel – something that Matt Neville’s essay points out is an old Canadian narrative in terms of our present national identity. M H: I have always been uneasy with the romanticization and victimization of ‘nature’ prevalent in conversations about the environment. The narrative is predictable and formulaic:

greedy humans exploit and destroy nature, humans must redeem themselves and restore nature to its former beauty; in other words, nature is good, human acts upon nature are evil. Leanna unpacks how such a deterministic, moral view of our relationship to nature is problematic: it limits our imagination. Examples from the regreening of Sudbury illustrate this limited view: the city uses the word ‘green’, and grows green grass over postindustrial sites to create the appearance of a good, healed landscape, whatever lies beneath. I think of 19th century

romantic painters depicting picturesque rural scenery when the industrial revolution was transforming human processes of production, spatially separating the places of production from the places where natural resources are. A nostalgic beautification of nature has become the default reaction to the ‘damage’ wrought by industry. Conversely, I think of think of Edward Burtynsky’s photographs: the subject matter is industrial processes, documented with a wide lens to show something like a detailed site section packed with

legible information. Vibrant layers of geology are exposed by processes of resource extraction. The terrain altered by industrial activity appears complex and beautiful. Leanna suggests that if we can change what we see, we can conceive of different futures. Maybe the old adage ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ applies to how we rethink our public, natural systems, and the way forward lies in part in finding beauty in less prescribed ways.


J e s s i ca L am, i mag e co u r te s y o f L au re n ti an U n i v e r s i t y S c hool of A r c hi t e c t u r e

focussing the landscape gaze

min in g f a llo u t en ergy recla ma t io n a n a lo go u s p ro ces s es

Signage explains the reclamation of the slag hills by the mining company Vale in relation to the broader re-greening agenda of Greater Sudbury, as well as the Superstack’s role in improving air quality in the city. New trees along sightlines will extend the way the pavilion frames the stack in the landscape, away from its blackened past and towards future smelting processes that negate the need for it.

above: the model of the pavilion right: stack flash-burning (which acts as a wood preservative) the cedar planks that make up the horizontal slats of the pavilion. Da v i d F or t i n

43 On Site review 33: intentional landscapes, inadvertent results

The re-Creation pavilion is a collaboration between Dynamic Earth, Sudbury’s interactive science museum, and second-year students at the Laurentian University School of Architecture. Given the geological and mining emphasis of the museum, students designed a pavilion that acts as a lens that captures aspects of Sudbury’s landscape impacted by the mining industry. They are also building the pavilion which is expected to be finished in October of 2015.   Horizontal charred wood slats and benches reference the extensive use of roast yards during Sudbury’s early mining history when an estimated 3.3 million cubic metres of wood were burned to remove sulphur from the ore. Viewlines are established to slag hills, the result of a process whereby molten iron was removed from ore through smelting and then the rock waste was dumped into the landscape. It also focusses on the iconic 380m tall Superstack built in the early 1970s to disperse sulphur and other smelting by-products.

project | v i e w i n g pav i l i o n by d av i d f o rt i n


resou rce ex t ra ct io n i n d u s t ria lis a t io n remed ia t io n t o p o gra p h y a f f ect io n

terrils as cultural artefacts i i n d u s t ry | embedded by ruth oldham

Mining and quarrying, whether for coal or copper, marble or potash, are activities that necessarily alter the land. A hole is made; a heap of waste is created, or the hole might be hidden underground, its presence only registered on the surface as areas of subsidence. In the case of quarrying and open cast or strip mining the hole is at ground level, perhaps shallow and wide, maybe deep and steeply sloped. The heaps of waste material can be amalgamated into a giant mountain, or dotted around as a series of smaller mounds, or spread as low and flat as possible. The original topography is modified; the original vegetation is lost. What should happen to the holes and the heaps once exploitation has finished? For centuries, across the world, they were just left in place, at most fenced off to prevent accidents. But over the past few decades scientific understanding and public awareness of the problems that mining and quarrying leave in their wake has increased. In the face of these problems – erosion, landslides, water pollution, disruption of water tables and local hydrology systems, loss of biodiversity, as well as the aesthetic impact of barren and carved up land – legislation has forced landowners and mining companies to reclaim the land and make it hospitable. This seems an entirely justified response, and it is vital that companies be held to account for the impact of their activities; they are not allowed to simply exploit the land and move on to the next site. But the debate is complex, and here I will borrow a phrase used in the original call for articles for this issue, as this greening-over can also serve as a ‘a screen or a mask

that beautifies a set of ugly exploitations… that excuses industrialised extractive industries.’ I would suggest that it can create a sort of amnesia helping the public forget – or preventing us from ever realising, the extent of our actions, just how much we intervene in the earth to create and maintain our way of life. This debate goes back at least to the 1970s when public awareness of environmental issues exploded. Robert Morris’s essay, ‘Notes on Art as/and Land Reclamation’1, outlines some of the principal debates surrounding the reclamation of mining landscapes. Observing how difficult it proved to establish and agree upon a workable definition of reclamation, he notes that in the USA the 1977 Surface Mining and Control Reclamation Act ultimately transferred the responsibility of reclamation to individual state governments to define and enforce, with wildly varying methods and means. Whilst this lack of definition opens up possibilities for the mining companies to carry out the minimum of reclamation, it also recognises that each site is unique (whether in scale, the nature of the disruption, or the surrounding environmental context) and that reclamation after exploitation should take into account these differences – there cannot be a universally adopted solution. Morris suggests that mines present enormous scope for artists to create site-specific works. Although such works might run the risk of serving as public relations exercises for the mining companies, they also have the potential to engage public attention on the subject of environmental exploitation by doing something other than simply evening out and greening over the landscape.

On Site review 33: intentional landscapes, inadvertent results

44 SW: Some of the affection for terrils felt by their neighbours makes me realise that North America (and this is perhaps the beginning of a discussion on the cultural differences in attitude toward landscape, and why landscape is so divorced from urbanism here — see Matt Neville’s response to Dispossessing, Hector Abarca’s observation that there is a different vocabulary and syntax used in North America from Europe, and even Desiree Valadares’ original Dispossessing essay) sees the physical results of mining as ‘scars on the landscape’, as landscape

is understood to be some sort of primeval state of nature, ideally untouched by man. The division lines are clear: there is nature and there are cities and the idea that there can be such as thing as Landscape Urbanism is both exotic and incomprehensible. In the historically impacted landscape of Europe, mining has coexisted with settlement for centuries. As Ruth points out, mining pits and slag heaps were just left in place: the landscape had changed. There were consequent problems, but eventually through sheer pressure of settlement density

it seems as if the mining landscape was absorbed into some sort of understanding of the relationship between settlement and land. The Aberfan disaster comes to mind here. And how different, in effect, was Aberfan from the Frank Slide? Smithson’s attitude to land was very American: monumental acts are at the scale of Land, as opposed to, say, Richard Long walking a path across a small bit of small-L land in England, which happened at much the same time as Spiral Jetty. The conflation of mining landcapes with Land Art

defines art as action/ consequence physically indistinguishable from resource extraction/ remediation. What makes it art is the theoretical gloss that we shove land around to indicate that we and our dependence on mining exist — a memorialisation of our needs. If true, the manufactured landscape has been naturalised in all senses of the word. A mining landscape wouldn’t be left as is today for a host of reasons mostly to do with the scale of contemporary mining technology, but I wonder if one of the reasons isn’t the export,


below from the top: Robert Smithson. Copper Mining Pit – Utah Reclamation Project, 1973 Fosses 7 & 7 bis, Courcelles-lès-Lens. from Mines et Cités Minières du Nord et du Pas de Calais, photographies aériennes de 1920 à nos jours. Presses Universitaires de Lille, 1990 Terril de la fosse Agache, Fenain, France. In both these photographs, the terril is literally at the end of the road.

Morris refers to Robert Smithson, whose writing and art work of the early 1970s addressed these issues directly. ‘It seems that the reclamation laws really don’t deal with specific sites, they deal with a general dream or an ideal world long gone… we have to accept the entropic condition and more or less learn how to reincorporate these things that seem ugly. There’s a conflict of interests. On the one side you have the idealistic ecologist and on the other side you have the profit desiring miner and you get all kinds of strange twists of landscape consciousness from such people.’ He believed that the artist had a vital role to play in negotiating this conflict. ‘Such devastated places as strip mines could be recycled in terms of earth art… Art can become a physical resource that mediates between the ecologist and the industrialist.’2

M i n e s e t C i t é s M i ni è r e s d u N or d

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w i k i m e d i a c om m ons

On Site review 33: intentional landscapes, inadvertent results

In 1973 Smithson sent the Kennecott Mining Company an unsolicited proposal for a reclamation artwork at the world’s largest open cast copper mine, Bingham Canyon in Utah. His proposal capitalised on the monumental nature of the site, leaving the vast spiralling ramps untouched, and simply creating a pool of bright yellow water (due to the acidity of the site) at the bottom, with four jetties that would submerge and appear in response to rain and water levels. The company never responded to his proposition as the mine was active at the time and remains so today. But it is interesting to note that the site has become an important tourist attraction; since 1992 the visitor centre has had over three million tourists and the sheer monumentality of the mine is an attraction in and of itself. Robert Morris suggested that it ‘should stand unregenerate as a powerful monument to a one-day nonexistent resource’ and he goes on to note that ‘all great monuments celebrate the leading faith of the age – or in retrospect, the prevailing idiocy.’3 It is not surprising that the land artists were attracted to mining sites, as the scale of industrial interventions on the land exceeded anything they could hope to achieve on limited arts funding budgets. An abandoned mine could be considered to be a ready-made art work – the artist’s job was to rethink it from mine to artwork, and find a means to communicate this transformation.

© E s tate o f R o be r t Smi th s o n / SOD R A C, M o n tré a l / VA G A , N e w- Yor k (2 0 1 5 )


Juan Guillermo Dumay

Rut h Oldh am

Driving through the Bassin Minier

Keeping in mind the issues raised by the 1970s land art movement, I would like to look at the landscape of the Nord-Pas-de-Calais area of northern France, which has been deep-mined for coal for nearly three centuries. Disruption to the surface of the land has been minimal compared to an open pit mine such as Bingham Canyon, where the mine has displaced all other land uses, even engulfing the original town of Bingham. In the Nord-Pas-de-Calais some of the now abandoned underground mines have manifested themselves at ground level in the form of subsidence lakes, but the most obvious impact to the topography has been the creation of hundreds of spoil heaps, known as terrils in French, from terre (earth). There are over 300 of these small hills of dark grey rocky waste dotted across a strip of land about 12 miles wide that stretches 120 miles east to west. Their conical silhouettes have created a strong visual identity to this otherwise flat and uneventful part of northern France (fig.2). The mines supported a workforce of thousands and attracted immigrants from all over France and Europe. These new arrivals were housed in exemplary workers’ housing estates with schools,

churches and other community facilities, all provided by the mining companies. A network of railway lines was created to transport the coal. The last mine closed in 1990, concluding a slow decline that began in the 1960s. In 2012 the entire area was classed as a UNESCO world heritage site, considered to be a complete landscape bearing witness to the coal mining industry which in turn was a crucial element of the European Industrial Revolution. In all 353 elements (such as pit head machinery, housing estates, schools, railways and terrils) have been listed. They recount many aspects of the rich social and economic history of the area, from the paternalistic management techniques of the mining companies to the workers’ union movement and the struggle for improved conditions and rights. Interestingly, in the inventory of the UNESCO listing, the terrils (of which 51 are listed) come third, ahead of housing and social amenities. The inadvertent results that mining had on the landscape have been recognised as important as the infrastructure that enabled it.

On Site review 33: intentional landscapes, inadvertent results

46 in this case to northern France, of a ponderous American attitude to nature and landscape that cannot admit man-made change. Ruth points out that there is no going back to a pre-industrial landscape, that is unrecoverable and mythic at most.

R J: I like the reflection on landscape and industry and the way this explores the origins of the forms that we characterize and cultivate as natural, as well as the argument against greenscaping as an always necessary solution to the effects of resource

extraction. Has there been much work on natural process land reclamation? this seems like a planned alternative to the filling and regrading that we’d normally associate with greenscaping, something like planting sections of a former industrial landscape in such a way that canopy, root structure, and growth patterns change the form of the landscape over a long period of time, gradually transforming it into something that is neither a simulacra of a pre-industrial natural state nor a preserved form of post-industrial conditions.

M H: I remember visiting a friend in Kazakhstan, who grew up in a uranium mining town... the abandoned terrils were her childhood playground, with ready-made bike routes to circle up and down on. I remember hiking in North England, where the trail took us through rolling green sheep pastures with overgrown moss that concealed the entrances to abandoned coal mines. I think there is a lot of magic in postindustrial landscapes. i’m thinking about the different kinds of reclamation suggested here: local residents,

‘regular people’, ad-hoc reclaiming the abandoned mine so that it becomes part of their imagination and daily lives, a ‘cultural artefact’, versus the reclamation and re-greening executed by larger public or private institutions. what is missing in the latter? Do artists working on land reclamation have a role in bridging these two bodies of users/stakeholders? M T: I love the idea of a ‘complete landscape’. The landscape was a product of the industrial revolution and it need not be restored. It just is. A new normal I guess.


w ww. p l a ne t ob s e r v e r. c om

Le terril no 49, 3 de Béthune, Mazingarbe

But I think there is something more going on. The terrils are loved by the people who live near them: they climb them, fly kites on them, appreciate the wildflowers and butterflies, and enjoy having a high place from which to get a view. And they are also recognised by the thousands of people who pass through the area every day, often at high speed on the motorway or train. I always find myself scanning the horizon looking out for the first glimpse of a terril. A pair of particularly large twin terrils on the edge of Lens were humorously likened to the Egyptian pyramids and featured in a successful campaign to bring a new outpost of the Louvre to the town. The upheaval left behind after over three hundred years of mining has become the defining feature of the landscape – it is the landscape.

S W: it is a matter of scale: the mining technology that created something the size of terrils has much to do with men, horses, trains and the limits of 19th-mid 20th century construction. Something about that human scale provides continuity with the appropriation as parks and hills for people today.

The oil sands technology is so huge, so vast, people operate diggers the size of a large house, the pits and tailings ponds are the size of small towns, or large towns even - no, small provinces. There are tens of thousands of people working on these mining installations, living in camps of thousands - I’m not sure where the human scale is in all of this that will provide continuity with reclamation 100 years hence.

The landscape of the Nord-Pas-de-Calais is interesting because there has been no program to return it to some previous (and now forgotten) state. A natural process of greening over has gradually got underway (some of the terrils are entirely wooded, others remain barren and stony, some have a green fuzz of pioneer vegetation). Overall, in its altered, man-made state the landscape has been left intact and in only a couple of decades after the end of the mining it has become highly valued and cherished. The UNESCO listing came about after a nine-year campaign, led by local politicians and heritage professionals, notably underpinned by real support from the local communities. The terrils and the other remains of the mining infrastructure have been incorporated into the identity and daily lives of the local population.Similar to how land artists transformed (rethinking) abandoned mines into sitespecific artworks, here the remains of the mining industry and in particular the heaps of waste that it left behind, have also been rethought – as places of recreation, and as cultural artefacts that tell an important history. 1 Morris, Robert, ‘Notes on Art as/and Land Reclamation’, October, Spring 1980 2 Flam, Jack (ed), Robert Smithson: The Collected Writings, University of California Press 1996 3 Morris, 1980

47 On Site review 33: intentional landscapes, inadvertent results

The terrils assert a landscape as something mutable. Maybe because the coal miners mined with a lighter touch they had fewer repercussions to fear? maybe there is a question of scale here as well.

At the beginning of this text I asked what should be done with all the holes and heaps left behind once mining and quarrying industries have exhausted their resource – perhaps an overly simplistic question. A short exploration of the subject leads one to realise that each site is unique and has to be approached individually, but it is nonetheless the question that has led to the creation of numerous laws and regulations in countries across the world. Were a new seam of coal discovered in France today it would be inconceivable that its exploitation result in the creation of several hundred spoil heaps dotted across the landscape.


infrastructure | resource extraction by xiaoxuan lu

war photography adaptati on re-u se har vest

the unexploded terrain of laos Xi a ox u a n L u

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I travelled to Laos while working on my thesis project in early 2012. Laos is the most bombed country on earth, a distinction it holds two full generations after the Vietnam War. At the time, American planes dropped 270 million bombs on the landlocked country bordering Vietnam, blanketing the Ho Chi Minh Trail but also indiscriminately unloading ordnance that had not been dropped elsewhere. Today life in Laos is still defined by this fact: nearly a third of those bombs never detonated. By a twist of fate, this same land also happens to contain the richest gold ore concentration in the world. And as outnumbered humanitarian groups continue to remediate places that were once trampled by war, the landscape now faces a new invasion, this time from international gold-mining companies. My investigation of this long-scarred landscape was initially inspired by an odd legacy of the war in Laos. I came across an article by Thomas J. Campanella called ‘Bomb Crater Fish Ponds’.1 Campanella writes, ‘One of the great ironies of the Vietnam War is that the bomb craters left in the wake of American B-52s now provide sustenance to the Vietnamese people.’ American bombs displaced 500 million cubic yards of earth in nine years (UXO LAO). Over the last forty years, B-52 bomb craters have been transformed from hideous manifestations of war in which lives and livelihoods were destroyed, into part of the agrarian landscape. In Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos villagers use the bomb craters as ponds for cultivating fish. These relics of war and symbols of tragedy have been changed into a symbol of sustenance. Untouched and unnatural, these ponds remain as underdiscussed monuments from one of American history’s most controversial eras. This physical evidence of a history haunted me, and I resolved to discover more about this land in turmoil. I want to know more about the intelligence that the people living there have developed — it’s about the art of survival. With that in mind, I travelled to Laos to further investigate its postwar landscape. My journey’s purpose was to reopen a dialogue with local villagers on this traumatic history and to document the scarred landscape in its current state. During my visit, I used infrared film: a type of military film which registers an invisible spectrum of infrared light, rendering the green landscape in vivid hues of crimson and hot pink. These infrared photographs of Laotian bomb sites show the difference between organic (pink) and non-organic (grey)

material in the landscape. One of my stops in Laos was at a de-mining site in Xieng Khouang province, where the international humanitarian group MAG operates.2 MAG mentioned that the bigger the bombs, the deeper they burrow. However, I noticed that they were only clearing the topsoil layer. While the largest are sometimes found 15 metres below ground, the regulations specify that if the land is for agricultural use, only the top 25 centimetres need to be cleared – just enough to permit aboveground farming since bomb clearance is extremely time- and cost-intensive. My site investigation also revealed the fact that, in the absence of agricultural production, many inhabitants of Laos have resorted to bomb harvesting as a means of survival. People hunt for unexploded bombs to harvest scrap metal: a highly dangerous activity, and the main cause of bomb casualties today. I have never seen a society that was so impregnated with ordinance. It had been a war against the land, as much as against armies. Through on-site investigation, combined with further research carried out upon returning to the United States, I came to understand the inseparability of food production, resource extraction and a post-war metal recovery and recycling economy in Laos. Bomb craters that were once symbols of death have been transformed into something quite the opposite. Similarly, my thesis project, ‘Mining as Demining’, recasts minefields in a virtuous cycle that could sustain local communities while restoring the land. Resource mining provides the impetus for de-mining, as gold will help pay for it all, and mining companies can be exploited as landscape architects to ultimately turn mined land back over to productive use for local communities.

1 Both the bomb casings and the craters themselves have been made to yield an alternative harvest in an ingenious replacement of the rice fields they otherwise disrupt. In Vietnam some craters have become fish farms. See Thomas J. Campanella, ‘Bomb Crater Fish Ponds’, Places, Vol. 9, No.3: 48. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1995 2 Mines Advisory Group (MAG) is an international organisation that saves lives and builds futures through the destruction of land mines, unexploded ordnance (UXO) and other weapons remaining after conflict. Since 1989, MAG has worked in over 35 countries and was a co-laureate of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997.


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On Site review 33: intentional landscapes, inadvertent results

Xi a ox u a n L u


an architecture for the dmz infrastructure r e u n i f i c at i o n by m i k e tay l o r

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This is a project set in Cheorwon, the only county on the Korean peninsula severed by the demilitarised zone, diminishing the potential of its Geumwha Valley to be efficiently farmed. However, its adjacency to the naturalised lands of the DMZ has created an ad hoc nature reserve for migratory birds, a popular tourist destination and a premium market for the organic rice grown here using traditional methods. In April 2012, a third nuclear device was detonated by an increasingly belligerent North Korea, while South Korea continues its three-decade trend as the fastest growing economy in the world. Regardless of this polarisation, reunification continues to be pursued. To further this agenda, the peninsula’s extreme economic disparity must be ameliorated using models that push hard currency north and engage the North’s labour force.

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b o rd ers a gricu lt u re war eco n o my ch eckp o in t s

With Cheorwon county at the nexus of a fertile agricultural valley, unspoiled lowland habitat, a cluster of tourist sites and the heavily fortified demilitarised zone, this area has the potential to host a model of cross-border economic cooperation that can be catalytic for economic and social progress within the Korean peninsula. My project proposes a special economic zone for rice production at the interesection of the agricultural valley and the DMZ. The unfarmed areas of the DMZ have the potential to enable access for North Korean farmers to the South Korean market. By leveraging the traditional farming methods of North Koreans – manual land preparation, no pesticides and handthreshing, against a burgeoning market for organic rice in South Korea, this scheme subverts use of the void border space to increase the buying power of North Korean farmers.

With a landscape organised in strips of adjacent infrastructure, the need for architecture comes at the intersections where farm roads cross the riparian zone, or tourist paths, or military surveillance roads. These intersections are microcosms of the greater condition of the DMZ, which cuts through Cheorwon’s fertile agricultural valley and is a condition in which architecture can be deployed as an allegorical response to the greater border issue. An architecture based on the need to bridge, layers circulation in section to create a vertical set of adjacencies: a stacked border condition, blurred by an undulating surface geometry. Architecture is given the agency to organise a miniaturised DMZ, revealing the spatial consequences of already existing and extremely surreal adjacencies. By redefining in section boundaries that are typically fixed in plan, confronting agriculture, the military, tourism and nature becomes necessarily architectural. This architecture reveals the uncanny juxtapositions that exist within the DMZ, and that confront the economic issues of reunification. These juxtapositions become generative factors for architectural form.

facing page: The formal concept of the project is derived from the need to bridge. Farm and military roads align with lowland habitat and, when situated next to an agricultural settlement, the site location allegorises the greater condition within the DMZ at Cheorwon. The surface geometry creates a double curvature for way finding along the bridged landscape. Incisions allow for access onto the landscape: a point of contact between South Korean tourists and North Korean farmers. Additionally they create a stacking of program underneath the surface, organising the rice mill located below. 


recent background of the Korean peninsula After 40 years of colonial Japanese rule that saw natural resources pillaged, an economy stripped, infrastructure and development stagnate and the Korean identity shaken, liberation of the Korean Peninsula by the Americans and the Soviets in 1945 was initially celebrated. However, the strategic geopolitical location of the Korean peninsula was too tempting for either party to abandon. To maintain a presence in central Asia and to prevent Soviet progress into Southeast Asia, the US military fortified, leading to the cold-war standoff of the Korean War. The Korean War, 25 June 1950 to 27 July 1953, ceased when both sides, the North assisted by the Chinese People’s Army and the South assisted by the United Nations, signed an armistice that formalised the division of the peninsula along the 38th parallel, originally drawn by the USSR and the USA to facilitate the surrender of Japanese troops in Korea at the end of WWII.1 Upon solidifying the border, referred to as the Military Demarcation Line, each side each took a two kilometre step back, leaving a neutral uninhabited frontier, four kilometres wide and 241 kilometres long – the Demilitarised Zone. ‘The DMZ’, lacking any specificity, is universally understood to refer to the exceptional border condition between North and South Korea. Both sides have military enlistment requirements for their citizens. In the south, men must do 18 months of military duty between high school and the age of 30. In the north, men must serve for seven years (recently reduced from ten) and women for four years.2 Extensive requirements put in place by North Korea’s ‘military-first’ policy ensure an exorbitant number of troops at hand. In 2011 the Korean People’s army had 1.1 million soldiers.3 Of these, almost one million soldiers are stationed at the northern limits of the DMZ. With the 600,000 South Korean and 17,000 US troops at its southern limit,4 the DMZ is the most heavily fortified border in the world.5 Despite fortification, the extremes on each side and in 1993 being called the scariest place on earth by Bill Clinton, the DMZ offers North and South Korea one of the only ecologically-restored areas on the peninsula. In addition to the four-kilometre strip enclosed by the DMZ that has been under severely restricted access for the past 60 years, the south has added a Civilian Control Area to the DMZ border. The CCA extends

five to twenty kilometres from the southern limit of the DMZ, designating a 7,678 square kilometre trans-boundary region.6 Until recently the CCA has had limited access to civilians: passenger vehicles need special permits to drive in this area and even when these are obtained most cannot park for extended periods of time, and other than farmers or military agents no one lives within it. River, wetland, forest, grassland, estuary, sand dune and reservoir conditions are all present between the western and eastern coastlines; numerous plant and animal species proliferate, some no longer found anywhere else on the peninsula. Because of the wide sample of ecological conditions within the DMZ, South Korea has applied for UNESCO world heritage site status; while the criteria is arguably met, status has not yet been granted, putting the DMZ and CCA in danger of being developed for industrial and urban purposes. For the past three decades, the integrity of Korea’s ecosystems and landscapes has been systematically compromised. Because food security is an essential part of its national spirit and South Korea has 100 percent self-sufficiency in rice production but only 20 percent arable land, the farming industry has demolished many lowland habitat and wetland ecologies for agriculture.7 The DMZ’s green corridor belongs to neither side. Although welldefined and controlled by the Military Armistice Commission, the ongoing war, the northern regime’s struggle for survival, and the south’s economic and social commitment to reunification make tis naturally reclaimed land a turbulent zone. With infinite pressures on this frontier in the foreseeable future it also makes for the perfect context for an architectural intervention. 1 Ahn, Ilsup. ‘Deconstructing the DMZ: Derrida, Levina and the Phenomenology of Peace’. Cooperation and Conflict. Sage, 2010 2 DMZ Tours 2012. Guided Tour at Panmunjon. 3 Cronin, Patrick. ‘The Dangers of Korean Unification’. The Diplomat 2011. 4 Wagner, Eric. ‘The DMZ’s Thriving Resident: The Crane’. The Smithsonian Magazine, April 2011. 5 Harvey, Fiona. ‘Wildlife Haven in the Korean DMZ Under Threat’ The Guardian, 2012. 6 Cho, Dong-Gil and Kwi-Gon Kim. ‘Status and Ecological Resource Value of the Republic of Korea’s De-Militarized Zone’. International Consortium of Landscape and Ecological Engineering, 2005 7 Harvey, Fiona. ‘Wildlife Haven in the Korean DMZ Under Threat’

51 On Site review 33: intentional landscapes, inadvertent results M i k e Ta y l or


Cheorwan county In 2012 the USA and Republic of Korea militaries conducted live fire training exercises in Cheorwon to test the area’s readiness for an attack from the north and to ensure that both armies are capable of coordinating in the case of a joint fire effort. US Military officials saw these exercises reinforcing the relationship between ROK and US troops. While gunfire and small explosions are not uncommon throughout the streets of Cheorwon, 2012 was particularly noisy for its 20,000 residents. These special drills involving advanced rocket launch systems were spurred by worries from South Korean intelligence officials that North Korea could be preparing a third nuclear test following its failed satellite launch in April. 8 The rocket tests have further defined Cheorwon’s identity as a county in a tumultuous war zone. Many tourists from both within South Korea and abroad visit it to learn about the tragedies of the Korean War. While they tour the lookouts and the infiltration tunnels, most fail to observe the exceptional land conditions present throughout the town. Urban tower blocks built in the 1970s provide efficient and affordable housing; these are surrounded by rice fields with aqueducts and small pathways that extend all the way to the DMZ limits, testing the bravado of local farmers. Amidst the land mine warning signs and damp marshland of the DMZ borders, many endangered birds also make their habitat.

These intense land uses surrounding new development can be taken as indicators of Cheorwon’s potential for industrial agriculture, urban development, environmentalism and resettlement. Paradoxically it is this promise that has held up the southern DMZ designation as a UNESCO Man and Biosphere reserve.9 Cheorwon is seen as too valuable a location, because of its potential north-south cooperation and rehabilitation of cross border tensions, for it to be limited in use by environmental protectionism. Additionally, Gangwon Province officials have announced their interest in a second inter-Korea industrial complex, similar to Kaesong, north of Cheorwon county..10 Locals share the government’s aspirations for their town and many people interviewed on the area’s violent past hold onto sentiments of once again being at the centre of a fully accessible peninsula – perhaps even the capital of a unified Korea.11 8 Zheng, Limin. ‘US, South Korea Hold Joing Live Fire Exercises in Cheorwon’ CCTV News, June 12, 2012 9 Kim, Eleana. Returning Cranes to North Korea: Eleana Kim on the Grus Japonensis. SINO-NK, Adam Cathcart, 2012 10 Elgin, R. Peace and Life Zone: Choice Revisionism. Marmot’s Hole. Seoul: Koehler, Robert, 2008 11 Nakano, Akira.’A Small Town Caught in the Crossfire of the Korean War’ The International Herald Tribune, March 3, 2008

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M i k e Ta y l or

Tracing the value-add to the commodity pricing of rice through manual farming and hand threshing.


a precedent for cross-border economic cooperation Most private sector economic interest in North Korea has come from business executives born in the north; Hyundai Group’s head, Chung Ju-yung, born in the northern half of a once-united Korea has initiated two major commercial ventures across the DMZ: The first was the I Love Cruise, which chartered South Korean tourists along the eastern coast of the peninsula into North Korean waters to see the revered Mt. Keumkang. The second is Kaesong Industrial Complex. In 2000, Chung Ju-yung (with agreement from Kim Jong-il) established Kaesong Industrial Complex, directly north of Seoul and approximately 20 kilometres north of the DMZ. It aimed for 220,000 jobs and $20 billion in exports for North Korea. Ground-breaking was in June 2003 and again in April 2004. Both North and South were to benefit from the project; South Korean businesses could manufacture products using North Korean labour, providing an opening for North Korea to liberalise and reform its economy, easing tensions across the DMZ.12 Although it began as primarily a private sector venture, both governments remain heavily involved in the project. South Korean companies operating in Kaesong receive incentives from the ROK in loans and tax breaks, and the ROK provided $223 million of the $374 million required for initial costs during the first stage. These funds were used to build infrastructure, a job-training centre, a water supply plant, a wastewater treatment plant and an electricity substation.13 The Kaesong Industrial Complex allows small and medium-sized businesses access to labour costs lower than in China or Vietnam, a workforce that speaks the same language, and proximity to the South

Korean market. The long list of companies that have applied to enter the Kaesong Industrial Complex indicates that investment in the area is seen as profitable. In contrast, approximately 40 percent of small and mediumsized South Korean companies that establish operations in China are unsuccessful – a widespread failure in cheaper labour markets indicates both a need and demand for access to a sustainable labour market. Kaesong’s success would provide a convincing precedent for industry and businesses to move north upon reunification or advanced economic cooperation. However, despite the support for South Korean businesses and the bottom line success they have achieved through operations north of the border, North Korean workers in Kaesong Industrial Complex are still denied the basic employment rights they would have in South Korea. While minimum wage is much higher in Kaesong than in the rest of the country, DPRK authorities take up to 45% of the wages paid by the South Korean companies. To date, no South Korean company has been able to say exactly how much of wages paid are kept by their workers.

12 Boose, Donald, Balbina Hwang, Patrick Morgan, and Andrew Scobell. Recalibrating the US - ROK Alliance. USA. Strategic Studies Institute, 2003 13 Manyin, Mark and Dick Nanto. The Kaesong North-South Korean Industrial Complex. USA Congressional Research Service, 2011

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The speculative settlement in the first phase of the Special Economic Zone within the DMZ at Cheorwon.

On Site review 33: intentional landscapes, inadvertent results

M i k e Ta y l or


On Site review 33: intentional landscapes, inadvertent results

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M i k e Ta y l or

J O: The topic of this article is both complex and compelling in that it attempts to address a very real sociopolitico condition through environmental design. If I understand the project correctly, it appears as though the author is drawing upon the dramatic North/South contrast to develop the programmatic & sectional juxtapositions in the

project. And by conflating these various forces into a single project, there is a revelation to be had on the potential for international collaboration and economic growth. This all seems clear. What is less clear to me are the specific architectural mechanisms at work that bring this contrast into focus. For example, in Francois

Roche’s ‘Hybrid Muscle’ project, which is a hitech pavilion that is pulled/activated by a water buffalo, Roche does a very good job of using a specific architectural mechanism to interact with a dynamic natural condition. And I believe that this project has the same potential, so I would like to know more about the way the author has combined the hi-tech

capabilities of the South with the farming know-how of the North. This North/South contrast seems to be implied in the form of the project, wherein complex & hi-tech formal geometries are used as the infrastructural substrate for the naturalistic ecological features that are akin to the rural farmland of the region, Southern tech with


M i k e Ta y l or

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farmers more on display, like zoo animals? And perhaps more to the point, I would love to see a diagram or text that clarifies the circulation paths of folks emanating from both the South and the North, my guess is that the project would show these two paths of circulation as distinct trajectories within the project that become intertwined at

strategic moments within the project, thereby revealing the critical juxtapositions within the design.

On Site review 33: intentional landscapes, inadvertent results

Northern grit. There also appears to be a number of specific economic and social interfaces within the project, and I am interested to know what happens when these worlds collide, is there an actual dialogue that is able to be facilitated between visitors and farmers because they now have a common physical space to interact with each other? or are the


pl a ne s pot t i n g the Kai Tak project

1 Cities are inevitably shaped by historical events and urban phenomena. This project examines a site’s capacity to resuscitate the memory of a spectacle in the absence of the architecture that generated it, and asks whether or not this can reverse the effects of what Robert Smithson described as the entropic city. The Kai Tak Project positions the individual as its primary focus by engaging the culture of casual aircraft spectatorship, or planespotting, that once existed in the city of Kowloon, to evoke an alternative reading of the cityscape. 2 The history of Kowloon and the evolution of its first airport can be characterised as one of transience and constant change resulting from inadvertent shifts in the political and economic landscape. During its 73-year long tenure of the airfield (1925-1998), the site, located on an ocean inlet between Hong Kong Island to the south and Kowloon to the north, endured numerous ownership changes and one world war punctuated by a Japanese invasion.1 Its initial formation as an aerodrome was happenstance in nature and its subsequent development was driven by piecemeal urbanism in the

i n s ta l l at i o n | axis of development by dominique cheng

t o p o gra p h y a ir righ t s s p ect a cle d ev elo p men t a f f ect io n

absence of a comprehensive master plan. At the point that a transaction between two investors intent on developing the vacant lands dissolved, the government recognised the site’s potential to become an airfield that could be extended and expanded as needed into Kowloon Bay.2 Over the following decades, the site underwent several transformations, from an aviation school in the 1920s to a naval air base modified in the 1950s to suit commercial aviation.3 Inevitably, the growth of South Kowloon was defined by a constant negotiation of space – urban space to air space.

1 ‘Hong Kong (China) - History’ in T. Ngo, editor. Hong Kong’s History: State and Society Under Colonial Rule. London: Routledge, 1999. p80 2 Choa, G. The Life and Times of Sir Kai Ho Kai, second edition. Sha Tin, New Territories: The Chinese University Press, 2000. pp. 31-32 3 Kai Tak Airport 1925-1998. (2013, October 4). www.cad.gov.hk/ english/kaitak

The approach path to Runway 13/31 in particular left an indelible impression on the urban fabric, inscribing a distinct path of low-rise buildings as a result of both aviation clearance requirements and the city’s natural topography of rugged hills and valleys. Landings at the airport, which grew increasingly more difficult, were a dramatic spectacle of aerial gymnastics – aviation enthusiasts grew accustomed to watching commercial aircraft sweep across the city at dangerously low altitudes during descent. Planespotting was a term coined to define this culture of casual spectatorship of aircraft, akin to watching birds in an aviary. Building rooftops and hillside plateaus evolved into makeshift observatories as other buildings and landmarks (designated by checkered signs and beacon lights) served as visual cues for pilots during final descent. South Kowloon was a Mecca for planespotters up until the airport could no longer sustain the pressures imposed by both population and infrastructural growth.

J L: What an intriguing proposition! Evoking a memory on such a large and yet intimate scale is a tall order.  To do it in three dimensions and play with the fourth is most commendable. I have a soft spot for Kai Tak Airport  It was my first airport, literally my gateway to the outside world.  My memory of it was through my experience of departing and arriving. Like a true 24/7 city, Hong Kong was full of bright lights.  Unlike any other city however, the Kai Tak airport was not away from the action, like the current Chek Lap Kok airpot.  From Kai

anxiously and excitedly waiting to wave to their loved ones. In my mind, it is still the most monumental arrival moment created in any airport around the world.   With ever tighter security requirements, higher safety standards, and more goods and people to process through our national gateways, departures and arrivals have lost their lustre.  To experience again that grandeur, the excitement, the anticipation, is only possible in memory.  A smile spread across my face as I imagined a plane across the Hong Kong

On Site review 33: intentional landscapes, inadvertent results

56 Tak, you departed with the lights of the city celebrating, as if it was the old days on a ship, with crowds waving and cheering. It made it that much harder to leave every time, even as we became airborne.  Arriving was similar.  I knew I was back on Hong Kong soil when the sliding doors opened after customs and there was a massive landing leading to a long ramp.  The landing acted as a stage and most people would naturally pause.  It was on that landing that I would reconnect with Hong Kong, and let the place infuse my being.  Crowds clustered around the ramp,

skyline once more through the spotters. Perhaps that is the reason I like this project. M H: I grew up across the street from Kai Tak airport. I remember the excitement of planespotting when I was a child the playground, and later, the adults’ relief that with the construction of Chek Lap Kwok, city congestion would decrease, and best of all, their apartments would no longer be subject to the incessant noise of airplanes flying by. We were all excited to take the subway to Lantou Island (previously a rural island of fishing villages, only


D o m i ni q u e C he ng

figure 1

Grand Aviary Schematic Plan Circuit diagram illustrating the ‘processor’ Chek Lap Kok (current Hong Kong International Airport) hard-wired to the ‘receptor’ Kai Tak (former Hong Kong International Airport). Activity in the form of take-offs and landings occurring at the new airport are fed simultaneously to the old airport to activate a series of staged disturbances in South Kowloon.

57 underground) circulation as well as the patterns of urban growth generated by their location? Commemoration could then provide a hitherto absent lens for us to read the city’s transformation. A O’C: Landscape as palimpsest – this ties back to landscape in a geological sense, layers and stratification of history in landscape, and then built upon with additional layers above the surface, each telling a story. For me, the conclusion of this act of remembering is not necessarily a physical effect, such as on the

process of building, though it could be, but rather a new way of seeing and reading space and landscape. This idea of landscape as palimpsest also connects to critical writing in landscape discourse – Sébastien Marot, in the last chapter of SubUrbanism and the Art of Memory, describes Georges Descombes’ Parc de Lancy and traces the history of the site revealed in the park design. This leads into the idea of memory in landscape, and brings to mind Robert Smithson’s Monuments of Passaic New Jersey and Marc Treib’s edited

volume ‘Spatial Recall: Memory in Architecture and Landscape’. Also Rachel Whiteread: www. publicartfund.org/view/ exhibitions/5899_water_ tower And then there is the topic of airports themselves (active and deactive) which has emerged in landscape discourse and is itself a fruitful topic for discussion. Aerial landscapes are rendered tangible in Luis Callejas’ proposal to stop expansion at Heathrow Airport and on the ground proposals for airports. In 2013 Harvard GSD held an exhibition and

On Site review 33: intentional landscapes, inadvertent results

accessible by ferry) to the new airport, the journey heightening the excitement of air travel. Some questions come to mind: in the collective memory of the city, do we mourn the loss of an airport -- a building typology that is fundamentally functional? What is the role of an airport (often our first impression of a city, and sometimes a very vivid one) in the identity of a city, and what will be gained by commemorating it? Or is this less about commemorating the airport itself, but remembering the transient paths of air (and surface, and


By the 1990s, the airport had reached a tipping point, warranting plans for a new replacement airport. Kai Tak Airport was officially retired in July 1998 in favour of Chek Lap Kok Airport located on reclaimed land 19 miles to the west. The Kai Tak site remained predominantly vacant for over a decade due to extreme levels of petroleum contamination and escalating property costs. Today, it is a ferry cruise terminal with tall residential development filling what was once restricted airspace; the airfield apron and the checkerboard markers are the only remaining relics of the past. The landing approach itself is immortalised in amateur home videos, photographs and recollections gathered from retired pilots and planespotters alike.

3 The project is a series of urban interventions (or staged disturbances) mapping the trajectory of the former flight path. They make reference to the landing approach via the city as a communicative interface. A direct relationship is created between the new airport (Chek Lap Kok International Airport) and the old airport, as one is programmed to respond to the other through various transformations in architecture and landscape in South Kowloon (figure 1). Highrises are retrofitted with ‘spotters’, or mechanical oculi that move in unison to scan the city for aircraft during take-off and landing (figure 3). Street signs momentarily rotate like flapper boards to display the flight codes (airline and flight number) of both outgoing and incoming flights. At the runway, the process of remediation is exhibited as a symphony of air and sound as at regular intervals pipes buried in the soil extract and exhaust contaminants in the form of gas (figure 2). The interventions, deployed in sequential order and triggered by data originating from the new airport, simulate the experience of a phantom airport.

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D om i ni q u e C he ng

figure 2

Sparging Field In a state of disuse, the landing strip is populated with siphons that release contaminated air back out into the atmosphere through a process of soil vapour extraction and air sparging. The process of remediation is transformed into a performance of sound.


figure 3

D o mi n i que C he ng

Spotter Oculi are appended to highrises all over South Kowloon – their sychronised movements trace the path of phantom aircraft descending into the city at regular intervals.

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DC: At the time of this project, I was also interested the theme of obsolescence and this idea of chronophobia – a term coined by Pamela Lee whose research was primarily focused on the prevalent theme of time and

temporality in 1960s art (Op Art, Land Art). In her research, she claims that there was a collective anxiety about the passage of time that informed most of the art (and I would argue architecture) that emerged during that era. She adds that there was an ‘insistent struggle with the temporal, an effort to either master its passage, still its acceleration, or give measure to its changing conditions’. In a similar manner, I generated a palimpsestual landscape that registered aspects of the past as an alternative to complete erasure. Perhaps this project was born out

of the same anxieties about cities growing increasingly unfamiliar.

On Site review 33: intentional landscapes, inadvertent results

conference, Airport Landscape: Urban Ecologies in the Aerial Age, discussing a wide range of topics on these aerial landscapes; one of the conference organisers, Sonja Dümpelmann, published Flights of Imagination: Aviation, Landscape, Design, which I am still looking forward to the chance to read.


flood mitigation With the catastrophic widespread flooding in southern Alberta on June 20, 2013, many of the areas within the Rocky Mountains and their leeward eastern foothills experienced significant damage to road and bridge infrastructure. One case occurred in Waterton Lakes National Park – the extreme southwest corner of Alberta bordering British Columbia and Montana. Called ‘the Crown of the Continent’, Waterton is a biosphere ecosystem in the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park and a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. In an unnamed and typically dry creek bed along the Akamina parkway experienced a sudden flash flood between late spring and early summer of 2013 washing out a large section of the road to Cameron Lake, a scenic drive popular with park visitors. A consequent large-scale repair and flood mitigation project took almost a year, reopening the parkway at the end of May 2014. The mitigation solution works like this: a partial earthen dam lined with large cobble creates a reservoir in a shallow depression. A barrier screen of steel beams is placed at its centre, angled backward with the slope of the creek bed and reinforced by two additional steel beams as structural supports. Gravel and smaller rock debris pass through this screen; large boulders and rock debris are stayed. The volume and momentum of water is slowed before it reaches a large culvert that runs under the road itself. This prevents a breach or washout of the road – it withstood 180mm of sudden rain in mid-June 2014. The creeks run east-west, the roadway runs north-south – a gabion retaining wall forms a structural rampart for the eroded shoulder of the road over a sheer drop on its western edge. The re-design and construction of these steep creek beds to control storm water and debris is meant to avert or at least limit the impact of a potentially catastrophic flood event within the foreseeable future.

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policy | w e at h e r + t o u r i s m by michael j leeb

in f ra s t ru ct u re ico n o gra p h y t o u ris m n a t io n a l p a rks clima t e

Such projects imply a fundamental shift in the conceptual framework of Parks Canada, where flood mitigation and increased flood resiliency are seen as an asset, and where flood reclamation and its consequent altering of the landscape does indeed take precedence (in selective circumstances) over the natural morphology of the landscape. Capital investment and commercial development now appear to trump former policy goals, with Parks Canada’s mandate more closely resembling the US Park Service. Recent projects such as the Glacier Skywalk in Jasper National Park and similar flood mitigation projects in Banff National Park confirm this shift in policy. Infrastructural projects, a form of ‘manufactured landscape’ that actually changes geomorphology, represent alterations of the natural environment through human intervention. Flood mitigation measures to protect roads that deliver visitors deep into the park freeze the natural changes that occur in mountain ecosystems. These projects defy the power of water to alter a landscape; instead they try to avert the natural process of climatic change within the mountain geography. It could well be argued that such a policy shift within mountain national parks will be costly and possibly ineffectual should climate change progress rapidly, releasing untold forces of nature. Although the Akamina Parkway flood mitigation project is an impressive example of innovative engineering and design, it has substantially altered the Waterton Lakes National Park’s landscape to provide a new visitor experience and to ensure the continued viability of the park’s infrastructure. It also is the advent of a fundamental policy shift within Parks Canada that will most assuredly affect the ongoing viability of Canada’s national park landscapes.

On one hand, the Akamina mitigation project protects public safety and continued access to hiking trails, boating and canoeing on Cameron Lake, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. On the other hand, similar flood mitigation projects constructed in other mountain parks have deeply scarred the landscape; like open wounds with a visceral impact, they are at odds with the heritage conservation mandate of Parks Canada – the preservation of a pristine landscape. To ensure continued access for tourism, pragmatic necessity has reshaped and transformed Parks Canada policy. The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society expressed concern in its 2014 report that infrastructure projects, (including commercial infrastructure such as hotels) have taken precedence over the social, ecological and economic benefits of national parks and designated wilderness areas. The announcement on July 14, 2014 of a federal five-year commitment and budgetary allocation of four million dollars for Parks Canada, earmarks the majority of these funds for the future development of infrastructure, rather than for scientific research projects or heritage conservation. M i c ha e l J L e e b


M i c ha e l L e e b

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interesting points of comparison here, both in Canada and abroad — postKatrina reconstruction in New Orleans, for instance, and current debates surrounding the deengineering of flood-prone rivers (the Mississippi, the Louisiana rivers) straightened and forced into concrete channels by the Army Corps of Engineers in the twentieth century. This technical overview of flood prevention infrastructur eillustrates the perverse logic of human landscapes that

do their best to divert natural systems and preserve developments that do not even attempt to take into consideration issues of landscape in their construction. M N: If infrastructural projects unwittingly manufacture landscapes, what kinds of landscapes are being manufactured at Akamina? Conventional flood mitigation infrastructure is usually a single engineered solution for a specific problem, strategically located at a single point in the river

system. Landscape, on the other hand, implies a breadth, a horizon, a wider view. Not having ever been to Akamina, I wonder what we will see when we zoom out from the dam. Are there people, animals, plants; new ecosystems and new human activities that can or will happen here? I wonder if infrastructure can make landscape at the outset, or whether humans have to inhabit and become intimately acquainted with it, that it acquires personal and cultural meaning.

On Site review 33: intentional landscapes, inadvertent results

R J: here is an upstream/ downstream tension in the management of flood infrastructure. If the creation of the park and the restriction of land use within it seem to valorise the upstream, the current infrastructural changes clearly indicate that the downstream is seen as more valuable. What does it mean when the anthropogenic aspects of the landscape are taken as the most permanent, especially when the natural conditions are ones of flux? There are some


Romsdalen - Geiranger fjord

di e ph o t od e s i gne r. d e

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Located on Norway’s west coast, the Trollstigen Visitor Centre is in a pass between two deep fjords. The site can only be visited in summer due to severe winter weather. Despite – or perhaps because of – the inaccessible nature of the site, the project became an entire visitor environment from a mountain lodge with restaurant and gallery to flood barriers, water cascades, bridges, paths to outdoor furniture, pavilions and viewing platforms. These elements are folded into the landscape so that the visitor’s experience of place is very intimate. The architectural intervention is respectfully delicate, conceived as a thin thread that guides visitors from one stunning overlook to another. The architecture is characterised by clear and precise transitions between planned zones and the natural landscape. Using water as a dynamic element – from snow, to running and then falling water with rock as a static element, the project creates a series of prepositional relations that describe and magnify the unique spatiality of the site. The Trollstigen plateau is a robust facility, dimensioned for durability with minimal maintenance and large static stresses. The contrast between the seasons (up to seven metres of snow

in the winter) is handled by the choice of materials. Structures and details are designed to withstand extreme stress without compromising visual slenderness. Working with resistance felt natural; cast-in-place concrete and cor-ten steel are the main materials. The steel oxidises, developing its own patina over time; the concrete has received several different techniques: polished, steel-trowelled, flushed, broomed, spot-hammered and cast in different types of formwork. With the nuances each treatment gives the material, it is possible to address each micro-context in relation to use and placement. All the materials are carefully chosen to show a clear and precise transition between the architecture and the natural landscape. There are always some difficulties in the construction of an installation like this. Because of the extreme weather conditions and the difficulties of access for construction equipment, most of the material was transported by helicopter to the outlook plateau. However, for us as architects it was always the structural challenge to do a structure robust enough to look after the safety of the public, and at the same time appear simple and elegant.


project | robust interventions by r e i u l f r a m s ta d a r k i t e k t e r

d if f icu lt y min ima lis m la n d s ca p e v is it o rs s u s t a in a b ilit y

d i e p hot od e s i gne r. d e

Location: Rauma – Møre og Romsdal, Norway Program: National tourist routes project Client: The Norwegian public roads administration Commission type: Invited competition (1st prize) in cooperation with Multiconsult 13.3 landscaping (2004) Architects: Reiulf Ramstad Architects (RRA), Oslo, Norway. RRA Key Architects: Reiulf D Ramstad - responsible project manager Christian Skram Fuglset - project manager RRA team involved in the process: Kristin Stokke Ramstad, project communication Anja Hole Strandskogen RRA architect Ragnhild Snustad, RRA architect Kanog Anong Nimakorn, RRA architect Espen Surnevik (former RRA architect) Atle Leira (former RRA architect) Christian Dahle (former RRA architect) Lasse A. Halvorsen (former RRA architect) Structural Engineer: Dr Techn. Kristoffer Apeland AS, Oslo Norway Design: 2004-2011 Construction: 2005-2012, official opening 2012 Photographs: RRA, Diephotodesigner.de Renderings: Reiulf Ramstad Architects/MIR Building area: 800 m2 Visitor Centre: restaurant and gallery 950 m2 Flood Barrier Structure Site: 200,000 m2

www.reiulframstadarchitects.com

63 On Site review 33: intentional landscapes, inadvertent results

Sustainability of the project is an important factor. There is durability in all details – the architectural installations have been built to withstand the violent forces of nature. In summer, autumn and spring, major floods cause extensive damage. The amount of snow in the winter months is so large that extraordinary static solid solutions are required. Since the project consists of a number of individual measures, it is organised into a system of sub-site development. As part of the mandate for sustainability, all grey water is filtered locally at the site through a series of sand reservoirs. Black water is reduced using vacuum sanitary systems. Trollstigen is energy self-sufficient through a local mini-hydro power plant which is a part of the project, and the project uses low energy infrastructure throughout. The Trollstigen plateau is a very comprehensive architectural project, both in program, complexity and extent. It covers an area of approximately 600,000 m2 that from one end to the other takes about twenty minutes of continuous walking. At the same time the complex is staged to receive a lot of people in a short time. Around 600,000 people distributed in 100,000 vehicles visit the site during the summer months. This lays down large demands of infrastructure and logistics.


unreceived wisdom

geo lo gy clima t e la n d d is a s t er d en ia l

language | of geography by stephanie white

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Reading about the Akamina Parkway on page 60, the engineering project that controls creek beds when they fill with too much water, ‘fingers’ and ‘dykes’ come to mind. All this work was done to protect a road, and that road is meant to deliver tourists to views that can be photographed. Leeb points out the shift in Parks Canada’s focus on protection and conservation of vast tracts of land, to tourism. Perhaps the vast tracts of land aren’t working hard enough to make money for the government. Surely they can be mined, logged or dammed, but in the meantime we can mine the tourist dollar. And then it rains, there are floods, there are avalanches if rain comes between snowfalls, skiers and snowmobilers are lost, houses ripped off their foundations, and if it isn’t raining, the forest is burning. Decades of misguided forest fire mitigation means that the woods are full of tinder, or dead pine beetle stock (no longer controlled by very cold winters), so when they go, they go with vengeance. Mine, sayeth the lord, or in this case, the climate. Controlled slash burning was once a form of fire mitigation – yes, all that burning dumped tons of things into the atmosphere and the air was full of smoke, but now with forest fires the size of small provinces burning all over BC, northern Alberta and Saskatchewan, tons of CO2 and particulate are still being dumped into the atmosphere, whole mountainsides are lost, not to clear-cutting, but to fire. The loss of habitat is gone in both scenarios. The parks were supposed to be immune to all of this; increasingly they are invaded by interference of the human kind, whether it be forest companies or campers who don’t put out their fires properly – easily done, the landscape is marketed as an image, able to be carelessly entered, virtually read without the knowledge of what that landscape actually consists of, how it was made, how it works. It is a marvellous thing, IMG_10452. 1 Michael Leeb wrote a poem (On Site review 29: geology) about the Frank Slide of 1903 where the side of a mountain sheared away and tumbled over a little town and the railway tracks. A natural disaster, just bad luck. Turtle Mountain, hanging over Frank, was called by indigenous people ‘the shaking mountain’. Would this not give a town builder pause? or the CPR engineers? Evidently not, what did the natives

know, allegedly living in their late nineteenth-century stone age? — quite a lot as it turns out. The eastern slopes of the Rockies are made up of the western edge of an inland sea, sedimentitious slates, sandstones, lifted up to long ridges by eastern-advancing plate tectonics. Like the snow conditions that produce avalanches – layers of snow, ice, snow, ice until it is so heavy that upper snow layers slide off buried ice layers, so too the mountains. So too Turtle Mountain, especially with a couple of decades of heavy coal trains rumbling by at its base: good-bye Frank. The engineers, geologists and civic entrepreneurs weren’t listening. The Akamina Parkway, the site of the flood mitigation engineering, is like the town of Frank. The creeks are shouting that there are problems ahead, but no one is listening; all of a sudden the fans of steel I-beams look pathetically frail. 2 The inability to listen is both ignorance and arrogance. The belief that living in a modern western society protects us from violence, from disaster, from death is a fallacy: our money is useless. The 2013 Calgary floods wiped out one of the most expensive neighbourhoods in a very wealthy city. The Elbow floods regularly, every five or so years, but this was an exceptional year, a weather system that slid up the eastern slopes from Colorado and parked itself over the headwaters of the Elbow River, somewhere in the Kananaskis Range 100km away. The Elbow joins the Bow which proceeds east to the South Saskatchewan River. East, 100km down the Bow from Calgary, is the Blackfoot Reserve of the Siksika Nation. It too flooded, it regularly floods, the housing is so flimsy that it is uninhabitable even between floods. The Blackfoot once were nomadic, ranging from the North Saskatchewan to the Yellowstone River, from the mid-Rockies to the Sand Hills. Treaty Seven, 1877, gave them a reserve on the Bow River. Where does the idea come from that to settle, to embed settlements in fixed geographies, to be permanent, is what we need? Is there not a logic in watching the waters rise and so moving to higher ground, rather than staying in an environmental and behavioural sink, vulnerable and trapped? Or in listening to the mountain above you groan and creak and deciding to move out of its way, rather than shouting at it to shut up?


disaster tourism, 1962: Frank Slide of 1903, Crowsnest Pass, British Columbia

65 There were most likely short-term expeditious reasons for overlooking the force of climate, weather events, the development of poverty and social inequity, plus power struggles between individuals, charismatic leaders and the quick buck. Our belief in power derived from technology and its eternal refinements is proving, two millennia later, to be chimerical. Flood mitigation does not stop floods; our fingers are in the cracks of a dyke we don’t even recognise, so blinded are we by the beautiful view.

On Site review 33: intentional landscapes, inadvertent results

Lest one think these are wilderness and provincial issues, London is a world city, the hub of its country, yet London had dreadful floods throughout its history, plagues, fires, poverty, epidemics – why were these things considered unimportant in the siting and the development of the city? And why did the Romans in their founding of Londinium, 47 AD, ignore Vitruvius, 80-15 BC, who clearly said that lowlands were unhealthy, vulnerable places to live and hills were best? He was a military man, Londinium was a military outpost, who wasn’t listening?


bi g pl ans natu re ti me i nscri pti on probl ems

M i ch ae l L e e b

Oil City National Historic Site at Waterton Lakes National Park, adjacent to the Akamina Parkway (see p 62)

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inadvertent reclamation infrastructure fragments by michael leeb

|

Oil City was surveyed in 1901 near the first producing oil well in Alberta, on the shores of Cameron Lake. The townsite was never developed and was eventually abandoned – oil drilling in this area was not economically viable. This is a remnant of a partial foundation for a hotel within the townsite, progressively, gradually re-colonised by the landscape.


d r aw i n g | being by a l e c s pa n g l e r

wal k i ng narrati ve embodi ment ti me drawi ng

Alec Spangler. Greens #2, 2015. Coloured ink on paper, 30” x 41”

Years later I found out about more analytic methods for such spell-casting. Erwin Straus thought that when walkers become train travellers the phenomenon of space contracts and is systematised. So for those of us used to mechanised forms of living, walking ought to de-systematise. I think this means ‘make-into-narrative’. When I read about Straus’s idea of mechanised ‘geographic space’ versus bodily ‘landscape space’ I fully understood what walking means to me.1 Walking is narrative; and narrative is all about embedded worlds. I’ve spent some time thinking about what the expression of walking is in art and design, even in strategies for living. For me, the answer is that the walking-self creates by telling stories: there is duration and spatial extent. The body has a place in it. Possible outcomes are multiple and simultaneous; there are added dimensions. There is meaning. There is no logical necessity. There is no rightness, because stories don’t have to be right. They just have to be good.

1 Wolfgang Schivelbusch. The Railway Journey: The Industrialization of Time and Space in the Nineteenth Century. Berkeley: The University of California Press, 1986. pp52-53

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The mid-1980s to early 90s was a big time for extra dimensions. Superstring theorists proposed an 11-dimensional universe; digital virtual realities had become possible, and popular culture abounded with stories of strange, secret worlds overlaid onto our own. It was also the period in my childhood when I became interested in walking. The kind of walks I liked were mundane and arduous; drawn-out errands in backcountry suburbia. I don’t doubt this habit began as a way of playing out my Terry Gilliam-fueled inter-dimensional fantasies. I enjoyed going to the often seen but rarely inhabited places I knew from car windows; medians and edges of industrial parks, places where Stephen King might have said that the boundaries between worlds had grown thin. Had I known the word ‘uncanny’ I’d have been able to describe where I wanted those walks to take me. I only knew them as my version of a magic wardrobe.


mapping | urban routes by troels steenholdt heiredal

the aarhus drawing

I walk anywhere I get to - I walk     wherever I am - I walk a lot                             to feel the city                             the urban landscape                             allow for it to affect me                             start a conversation with it                                                     inside me

I sat at my drafting table in Copenhagen and started to draw a very large plan drawing of Aarhus, the city where I had lived and studied architecture for three years. The drawing was informed by the memory Aarhus had built within me.  It is three years since I did the Aarhus drawing. I wrote then: I was late, as usual, on my bike heading towards Aarhus Central station. My sister called me, “Where are you? The train leaves in a few minutes, you know that right? Hurry up.” “I’m coming, I’m coming; I’m biking as fast as I possibly can...” As I was biking through the streets of Aarhus, a thought hit me – was I even biking the best route to the station? I feel I know my way in the city, I have a relationship with the city, but I have no idea how the city manifests itself within my mind. I have a strong feeling that this is the fastest way to get from the school to the station due to the basic layout of the streets as they appear in my mind, but I could be wrong. Has my mind reshaped the geography of Aarhus to fit with my habits and my conviction of what the city is like? As we move through the city the city moves through us. We engage with it, we continuously develop our relationship with it. The city is both physical built structure and a mental construct; cities have personality, and within the city the

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R J: The connection between inner geography and inner monologue reminds me of the way that habitual walks are treated in literature as stream of consciousness, how they tend to become hyper-subjective passages. The explicit geography and visual aspects of the scene, the space and setting, disappear into the character. It’s not that the city is there in an individual way as much as a feeling that familiarity creates absences. This is all very de Certeau, this synecdoche of urban space, this elliptical construction of a geography around points of interest or affect that seem to be connected by blank spaces that stand for our most common routes between them.

w a lkin g dra w in g remem b erin g w rit in g l o ca t in g

The maps themselves made me think of Mike Kelley’s architectural models, created from memory, which also use a minimalist aesthetic language (the models are all white) to understand the gaps you find when you try to remember spaces. For the grid as an ideal of individual identity, see Paul Auster, specifically City of Glass. The grid, especially in New York, is no sure guard against disorientation. Jameson and his discussion of disorientation in Jersey City and Kevin Lynch’s study of that same gridded metropolitan sameness offer an interesting challenge to assumptions, built on analyses of capital cities, about urbanism’s deterministic effect on

different parts have different personalities. There are parts of the city I like, parts I frequent a lot, there are parts I only go to if I have business there. Some I only pass through to get from one part to another. Some parts I don’t like, and some parts I have to be in. My knowledge of Aarhus is arranged according to these relationships. We build our understanding of the city; our minds rearrange the spaces to build a personal geography within ourselves. The relationship between the places we visit and the spaces between them, guides the construction of this inner geography we all carry with us. To investigate the relationship I have with the city, I shall draw the city as I remember it. Three years on, I think more carefully about the role of walking through the city, through the landscape; sensing the environment. As we use inner speech to define ourselves, we have inner geographies – a space where we are able to take in the world, to deal with it, to build our understanding of it. As David Gersten says, we build space, as space builds us; we are interdependent. We move through the cities as the cities move through us; and in that exchange we construct each other. The hippocampus is responsible for ttransforming short term memory into long term memory; it also converts twodimensional map information into a physical walk – a path in three dimensions. Memory and space live side by side and interact – inner speech and inner geographies. Our relationship to the world and the city can’t be objective, it can only be subjective: it’s a relationship. Explaining it will only of memory merely distort the map of the city? M H: There is a disconnect Would memory render an between the use of the uneven level of detail in a drawing, the way a pen plan view and the more and ink sketch records visceral experience of different details than a walking or biking through the city. Troels points out photograph? I’m struggling to see where this drawing that one’s relationship of Aarhus deviates from a to the city is subjective conventional projection. and constantly reshaped, What kinds of tools yet a plan is typically a rational, static document. are available to someone mapping cities from memory? Conventions for drafting Were not all explorer’s plans do not account for maps drawn from memory? experiential qualities like the decaying edge A O’C: I think the use of the curb, the weeds of the map, or plan, is in the cracks, the street strong here for precisely vendors that inhabit the reason that maps are them, the dancing shadows typically rational and — things that come to my static, ubiquitous drawings mind at the thought of that represent a familiar a bike ride through a plan. Of course there city. Can a plan convey personal experience, or the are many details that don’t get shown through modifications of personal memory? Do the distortions this representation, but individuals.


size: each rectangle is an A2 piece of paper 594 x 420 mm. The overall drawing (5.46 x 3.56 m) consists of 48 sheets of A2 paper (12m2)

diminish this relationship: one must accept that you do not understand, but still want to know. Only then will you find ineffable beauty, because you were not looking for an image you already knew. If you are truly engaged, you will come upon things you had no idea existed, things truly new, not something understood.   My thesis investigated the organic parts of inner Paris where the city seems to spontaneously spring new connections, the rational structured grid of most of Manhattan, and the threshold between the massive and the petit of Moscow. Does the more clear structure of Manhattan lead to more clear perception of oneself? Does the entangled structure of inner Paris cause you to run into dead ends, or even open ends where you get lost? Or will the mind always find a way to connect the dots, and build new linkages, just as the mind is able to distort the grid and transform the structure put in front of it, by looking at it very closely. My drawing of Aarhus is so large because if it were any smaller, if I had an overview while drawing the drawing, I would just have drawn the image of Aarhus as I know it from maps. By making the scale the point where I needed to get into the streets in my mind, I drew the feeling of Aarhus; I sensed Aarhus as my inner geography.

by redrawing the map based on his own reading of the space, Troel’s individual experience and interpretation is more legible through the contrast. Slight or significant deviations from the ‘authentic’ map illustrate the individual’s habits within, and perception of familiar spaces. As another reference, Careri’s Walkscapes is a beautiful book on walking as a critical tool/way of looking at the landscape. L D: Although I don’t see how this map embodies the feelings or personal geography of the author, I find the drawing quite beautiful in itself. I don’t know what Aarhus looks like on a map but despite this stated intent,

it still looks to me like the author was trying to recreate a ‘proper’ map, rather than an illustration of his subjective impression of the city – which is what I expected after reading the text. As I understand it, the drawing is not a diagram intended to better illustrate the message of the text, but is actually the stimulus for the text. After looking at the drawing again after 3 years, does he still feel it is an accurate representation of his city? Much as I am interested in a more general overall consideration of the connection between street layout and human psychology (both how/ why the space was created in its particular shape

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in the first place, as well as what effect the space has on its users/ visitors once established) I would like to hear someone else’s thoughts on this, because I feel there to be somewhat of a disconnect between text and image which has not been explained.

T S H: I am a bit overwhelmed by the interest and care you have all shown in this piece, , so thank you all very much, it has touched me deeply... (Troels’s further discussion is on the webpage for this issue: www.onsitereview.ca/33land


c a l l s fo r articles

As always, take the themes in whatever direction you want, and remember, this is a journal about architecture and urbanism, design and landscape, about spatiality and construction. Push each theme into these fields. The deadlines are absolute.

issu e 35: bo rders

Borders are limits, dividing lines that separate one thing from another, that enclose a space to cut it off or make it whole. They can be thick (dead zones, fortifications, green belts) or thin (the lines on a drawing, the edge of a page), hard (walls and fences) or soft (the gradual fade of a cell phone signal, the city limits that can’t keep wildlife out).

S pr ing 2 0 1 6 ideas/proposal (brief outline, some idea about possible images, estimated length) due 1 January 2016 Finished pieces are due 1 February 2016 Send everything through www.onsitereview.ca/ contact-onsite The call for articles is also at www.onsitereview.ca/ callforarticles with futher links to specifications and editing policies.

issu e 36: vernacular Fa ll 2 0 16

On Site review 33: intentional landscapes, inadvertent results

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ideas/proposals for articles only: due 1st July 2016 specs: www.onsitereview.ca/ callforarticles

walls – through Palestine, the Mexican border, Hungary’s razor wire fence, the concrete Berlin wall, the useless Maginot Line, the massive Atlantic Wall limits – of settlement, of urban conditions materiality – permeability, solidity, transparency, opacity identity – lines on political maps containment and protection – prison walls, detainment camps edges – a new look at edge city breaches – the spatiality of breaking dams, dykes, walls: imaginary boundaries overcome construction – the actual construction of fences, barriers: sections/plans/maps infrastructure – suspension of services that defines an edge, jurisdictional differences landscape – green belts, forests, deserts border markers – airports, customs & immigration, passports & loss of, cairns, signs, checkpoints

For issue 36 we would like to investigate borders solid and ephemeral, permeable and impermeable; border crossings, signs, checkpoints; experiences and constructions of liminal space; questions of identity, containment and edges.

1. definition of vernacular architecture (the borrowing from linguistics, ‘the vernacular’, the lingua franca), architecture without architects revisited: Bernard Rudofsky, Paul Oliver 2. the detailed study of a vernacular: geography, geology, resources, culture, topography, materials (the deep history of a building type) 3. the value, beyond historical and cultural documentation (which are a given), of these studies to contemporary practice 4. examples where one could look at emergency housing and vernacular traditions, developer suburban housing and its vernacular roots -- all the cases where now we have ‘architecture for the people’ that has developed out of ‘architecture of the people’ 5. how vernacular traditions and building types survive, endure, resist, evolve 6. why so many smart young urban architects feel impelled to study vernacular architecture in the most un-globalised places they can find.

M H: in the realm of architecture with a capital A, there’s been an ongoing trend to reinvent vernacular typologies (brian mackay lyons, david chipperfield), to honour traditions, to fit in with the cultural context, etc. Conversely, among those who are dismayed by the elitism of architecture, studying the vernacular gives a glimpse into what architecture

actually is for the 99%. Environmentalists love the vernacular: lowcost, local renewable materials, passive energy systems. And you can read all kinds of fascinating social relationships and cultural values in the vernacular, whether it’s how ancient desert communities designed their water infrastructure, or how Victorian rowhouses are adapted by immigrant

families in Toronto’s chinatown today. M T: I think in contemporary practice, from what I have seen, there is a real misappropriation of the term. On the west coast I hear it used to describe anything that stylistically relates to local building materials. If an interior designer exposes glulam beams her

design is ‘vernacular’. In Copenhagen any proposal that engaged an urban system or a community group was deemed vernacular, despite a formalist approach to the building that came with it. S W: we want to take this theoretically unfashionable (right now) topic and give it a critical twist.


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On Site review is a critical journal of architecture, urbanism, infrastructure, culture and all matters spatial and material. It is based in Canada, has an editorial team from Canada, the USA, Australia and Europe and contributors to each issue drawn from throughout the world, writing from Katmandu to Valparaiso, Vancouver to Rotterdam. We invite you to check in with our website onsitereview.ca for links to our facebook site, twitter feed, calls for articles, links to back issues, volunteer opportunities and editorial discussions. Join us, any time.

contributing editors and commenters in this issue: Nicole Bruun-Meyer has a passion for the built environment, cities, public spaces and community engagement. While working as a Junior Architect in Toronto, she explores these topics through photography, writing and other design projects.

Ania Molenda is an independent Rotterdam-based architecture researcher/curator and founder of Amateur Cities. Her work focuses on the socio-cultural dimension of spatial practices and innovation in contemporary urban environments. www.aniamolenda.com

Lisa Dietrich, Dipl. Ing.Architekture (FH) from HafenCity University, Hamburg, is an associate with Plant Architect in Toronto. She is currently overseeing contract administration for Nathan Phillips Square revitalisation at Toronto City Hall.

Matt Neville is an urban has a bachelor degree in and a graduate degree in of Leuven, Belgium). PhD

Graham Hooper is an artist, educator and writer living and working in the United Kingdom. He runs the Felpham Psychogeographical Association (felpham.ishappynow. com and @FelphamPA). He also writes for a number of international publications and exhibits widely. Ruth Jones has a PhD in French and Francophone Studies. She writes about literature, urban history, representation and modernity and is currently adjunct faculty at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. Joanne Lam is a registered architect and a professor, born in Hong Kong, now based in Toronto. Her work, spanning from urban design to architecture to interiors, focuses on functional design in its context.   www.atelierpool.ca

Aisling O’Carroll, MArch Waterloo, grew up in Toronto, currently lives, practices, and teaches in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has a background in landscape and architecture, and an avid interest in the landscape of cities, their surroundings, roads and culture. Jeffrey Olinger is a practicing architect in Boston, Massachusetts. His work focuses on the intersection of building culture and design, with an emphasis on the human factors associated with design technology. Michael Taylor has worked extensively throughout Asia completing projects and research in China, Singapore, and Korea. His featured thesis project combines his interest in community, economy, and form. He is currently practicing in Switzerland. Stephanie White, lots of degrees, the editor of On Site review, always has conversational thoughts about all the articles but nowhere to put them. The comments aren’t critiques, but rather things that occur while reading: other examples, parallel instances, extrapolations.

71 On Site review 33: intentional landscapes, inadvertent results

Miriam Ho has an MArch from the University of Waterloo, and has worked for ‘starchitects’ in Europe and Asia. She collaborates on installation art with the digitaldesign research group F_RMlab in Toronto, and also writes essays and fiction.

planner working in Halifax. He Social Anthropology (Dalhousie) Human Settlements (University dropout. Twitter: @nevwxyz


ON SITE r e v i e w

contributors lives in Manchester in the UK. His work includes making and playing meta-guitars, circuits, and drawings. He is currently the artist in residence at The National Media Museum in Bradford. davidmbirchall.com david birchall

is an architect and artist based in Toronto. His illustrations and installations have been exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, Art Gallery of Hamilton and the Gladstone Hotel. dominique cheng

is an architect with Pulp & Fiber, a Toronto-based brand marketing and advertising agency. novkacosovic@gmail.com novka cosovic

received her Master’s in Landscape Architecture from Harvard Graduate School of Design. She practices at GLS Landscape Architecture in San Francisco. cargocollective.com/Heather_Dunbar heather dunbar

On Site review is published by the Association for non-profit architectural fieldwork [alberta] which promotes field work in matters architectural, cultural and spatial.

is an architect teaching at Laurentian University School of Architecture,who has research interests in the crossovers between science-fiction film and architecture, as well as Métis design thinking in Canada. david fortin

troels steenholdt heiredal ,

flâneur, walks cities collecting photographs, films, drawings, writings and notes. These ideas and frgments are being re-configured and presented to the audience at www.troelsheiredal.com is an artist, educator and writer living and working in the United Kingdom. He runs the Felpham Psychogeographical Association (felpham.ishappynow. com and @FelphamPA). He also writes for a number of international publications and exhibits widely. graham hooper

is a designer and researcher in Seattle, Washington. She studies the networks between land, people and ecosystems, and how those relationships are represented between digital and analog space. sara jacobs

On Site review invites theme-based submissions — reviews, commentary, photo-documentation, project descriptions and critical essays in response to our calls for articles: www.onsitereview.ca/callforarticles For any and all inquiries, please use the contact form at www.onsitereview.ca/contact-onsite Canada Post agreement 40042630 ISSN 1481-8280 copyright: On Site review. All rights reserved. The use of any part of this publication reproduced, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopied, recorded or otherwise stored in a retrieval system without the prior consent of the publisher is an infringement of Copyright Law Chapter C-30, RSC1988. subscriptions: www.onsitereview.ca/subscribe editor: Stephanie White

On Site review 33: intentional landscapes, inadvertent results

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contributing editors: Hector Abarca Nicole Bruun-Meyer Miriam Ho Ruth Jones Ania Molenda Matthew Neville Aisling O’Carroll Michael Taylor design: Black Dog Running printer: Emerson Clarke Printing, Calgary distribution: Magazines Canada 416 504 0274 Ubiquity Distributors USA 718 875 5491 On Site review is available in a great number of news stands listed at www.onsitereview.ca/wheretofindonsite and can always be ordered directly from us at www.onsitereview.ca/contact-onsite

is a poet, writer and visual artist in Blairmore, Alberta and a member of the Society for the Study of Architecture in Canada. jleeb@telusplanet.net michael j leeb

leanna lalonde ,

MArch,Waterloo, thesis: Curation: Representation in the Reclamation of Sudbury, Ontario Landscapes, is currently an intern architect at Adamson Associates. leannalalonde.wix.com/designportfolio is an artist and photographer from Cape Town, South Africa. His photographs have been exhibited in three solo shows in Cape Town and several local and international group shows. www.dillonmarsh.com dillon marsh

is an architectural designer based in Vancouver BC, where her studio, The Offsite Project, explores small projects and vast contexts. She holds a BAS and an MArch from the University of Waterloo. www.theoffsiteproject.com lindsey nette

is an urban planner working in Halifax. He has a bachelor degree in Social Anthropology (Dalhousie) and a graduate degree in Human Settlements (University of Leuven, Belgium). PhD dropout. Twitter: @nevwxyz matt neville

studied architecture in Glasgow and London and now lives in Paris. She is interested in landscapes, waste, and the imagination – subjects she is exploring in an ongoing study of man-made mountains. rutholdham@gmail.com ruth oldham

tim sharp ,

born in Scotland, lives and works in Vienna. Visual artist (video, photography, installation) and writer. Numerous exhibitions and film festivals in Austria and abroad. Recent public space installation for Vienna Festival: Ruprechtsstiege/ Morzinplatz. www.timsharp.at lives in Brooklyn and designs landscapes for Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates. He has an MLA from Harvard’s Graduate School of Design; an MFA from Purchase College, SUNY; and a bachelor’s from Vassar College. alec spangler

has worked extensively throughout Asia completing projects and research in China, Singapore, and Korea. His featured thesis project combines his interest in community, economy, and form. He is currently practicing in Switzerland. mike taylor

desirée valadares ,

landscape architect and urban designer, is currently a PhD student in architecture at UC Berkeley where she studies reconciliation, redress and transitional justice through the lens of memorials, monuments and commemorations. dustin valen

is a doctoral student in architectural history at McGill University.

questions the composition of architecture--seeking to expand the perception of what the discipline’s built forms and histories are (and could be). She is Assistant Professor of Architecture at Portland State University. www.norawendl.com nora wendl

studied architecture, literary theory and geography, practiced in Calgary, taught architecture in many odd places; now is the editor and publisher of On Site review. stephanie white

is a product designer and independent researcher. Some of her works have been featured in the New York Times, The Guardian and BBC. She works at the Landscape Architecture Research Office (LARO). xiaowei r wang

xiaoxuan lu ,

PhD Fellow at Harvard University. Her doctoral work examines the relationship between water and power in China’s militia stationed at the Northwestern Frontier and calls for an updated understanding of territorial borders, national sovereignty and national security.


Ábalos and Herreros. Site panorama #116, Barcelona Forum 2004,2000 Photomontages of chromogenic prints with pressure-sensitive tape. ARCH273203 Ábalos & Herroros fonds, CCA. Gift of Inãki Ábalos and Juan Herreros.©Inaki Abalos and Juan Herreros.

Landscapes of the Hyperreal: Ábalos & Herreros selected by SO – IL 23 July to 13 September 2015 Ábalos & Herreros constructed landscapes—or, more precisely, assembled them—by crudely juxtaposing a cast of semi-familiar characters. Novel to Spanish architecture in the 1980s, this pragmatic method of appropriation was developed and consistently employed as part of their design process. Borrowing, incorporating and transforming allowed Ábalos & Herreros to absorb the Modernist canon, and to introduce a wide variety of architectural and visual art references. Their language of assemblage is vivid, dynamic and non-dogmatic. The collage here is not only a form of representation, but also a means of production.

Ábalos & Herreros developed landscape projects in areas that had remained largely out of view. This new, liberated landscape—a direct result of the socio-economic conditions that were shaping Spain following the end of the Franco regime—shifted attention from the centre to the periphery. They actively chose to redefine these sites and to make them subjects of concern for the architect. These new programmatic interests included waste and recycling centres, sports and (nudist) recreation sites, harbours, highways and airports. Through this process of appropriation, Ábalos & Herreros generated a number of architectural characters: the shed, the double tower, the environmental structure, the machinic device and the pattern. They introduced these characters again and again in various proposals to populate, animate and activate new contexts, from the derelict industrial harbour of Bilbao to the undeveloped rural area of Valdemingómez. The characters, initially site-less and ‘pure’ start to coalesce; the soup gets thicker and murkier and the resolution intensifies. No longer able to operate autonomously, the landscape becomes an interrelated system, a hybrid of the natural and the artificial that is hyperreal. It is a new nature, made an integral part of the architectural proposition. –Florian Idenburg and Jing Liu, guest curators

Critical Imagination The Unmasters Wishful Thinking

amateurcities.com

www.cca.qc.ca

Fewer Regulations, More Open Source and a Broader View

This is what Mark van der Net thinks can uncover new perspectives for architecture and urban planning. Read the interview with Mark van der Net at amateurcities.com


ON SITE r e v i e w w w w. o n s i t e r e v i e w. c a

Il Paesaggio Oggetto® l a n d a rt | ownership by giuseppe licari

The landscape of Tuscany: praised for its natural beauty but intensively designed. Val d’ Orcia is an extraordinary example of the way the landscape was re-written in Renaissance times to reflect the utopic ideals of good governance. Siena was a commune and the Val d’ Orcia a model of sustainable rural development. Between 1338 and 1340, Lorenzetti painted, in Siena’s town hall, the ideal landscape; in the Val d’ Orcia it became reality. In 1999 the area was designated an artistic, natural and cultural park through the initiative of five municipalities with a common management body. In 2004, Val d’ Orcia was added to the list of UNESCO heritage sites, and its aesthetic appearance protected and regulated. In the summer of 2013 Marina Comandini and Monteverdi Tuscany organised a three-day art festival, Per Apsera ad Astra, at Castiglioncello del Trinoro, in the province of Siena. My contribution to the festival was a land art intervention directly on (rather than the more general in) the valley – a question for both the people living there and to visiting tourists. To whom does this landscape really belong? Who has the ownership of its beauty and harmony? Everything in the valley as we see it now was designed, reshaped, destroyed, rebuilt and finally protected and regulated. After millions of years of evolution the natural and anthropologic processes of this landscape have stopped, constrained to resist any human or natural interventions. It will now stay still for future generations, registered as it was in the early twenty-first century, not as it might develop. Seen from the main square of Castiglioncello del Trinoro, the registered trademark symbol ®, an alien sign in a human landscape, points out just how land and landscape can be alienated.

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This project was made possible with the support of CBK Rotterdam and Monteverdi Tuscany.

Giuseppe Licari. Registered: Il Paesaggio Oggetto Per Aspera ad Astra, a festival curated by Marina Comandini. Monteverdi Tuscany, Val d’Orcia, Siena, Italy 2013 Land art intervention: 70 x 90 m Gi u s e ppe L i cari

Profile for stephanie white

on site 33: land  

Intentional landscapes: inadvertent results. With the best of intentions, our land and landscape interventions do and say things we didn't...

on site 33: land  

Intentional landscapes: inadvertent results. With the best of intentions, our land and landscape interventions do and say things we didn't...