Marija Zivic @ 2nd year MSc Architecture, Politecnico di Milano [Design studio 2 – Instability]
The project develops in response to the earthquake phenomenon in the Umbria region in Italy. It analysis the territory through Q-GIS data and then uses soil natural regeneration as the only positive consequence of earthquakes. The project references the natural regenerative soil process by applying new techniques of food production – synergic agriculture.
The concept itself is strongly related to the development of this kind of production taking into account minimum human intervention, leaving it all to nature. In doing so, synergic agriculture is a method of cultivation which doesn’t use any kind of industrial approach and/or machines but allows nature to ‘re-produce’ itself through the creation of organic soil shapes that define the landscape.
Artificial interventions are present in terms of pedestrian paths to improve accessibility and public spaces forms for future development as a consequence of production improvement.
What prompted the project?
The main topic of studio was Instability, referring to natural conditions that we cannot predict or prevent although they have a huge influence on architecture that we make.. In this case the word ‘Instability’ was strongly related to the phenomenon of earthquakes, especially in Umbria – one of the most vulnerable areas in central Italy where a multitude of factors had to be considered in order to respond with a project that would use or resist the influence of earthquakes.
What was your work process in terms of project development and production of drawings?
First of all, for realizing the ‘invisible’ forces and the forces of nature that are strongly present in mentioned region, it was inevitable to start with different kinds of analysis. The main focus of this project was the only good side of the earthquakes – natural regeneration of soil as a consequence of earth liquefaction when earthquake occurs. Analyses led to better understanding of present natural elements which are referring to underground waters and their typology, valuable minerals presence inside them, alluvial cones and the most earthquake endangered zones. Mapped analysis represent the main key for further development of the project concerning that during mentioned process of liquefaction underground waters break out to the surface of the ground, bringing the minerals with them, creating new possibilities for future ecosystem. As the area with presence of mentioned natural elements have envious potential for creating new kind of production the final outcome was implementation of synergic agriculture into the field that has the most potential factors for development of this production kind. Further steps led to detailed studding of synergic system and plants that are going to be seeded as the main concept is based on symbiotic relation among different kinds of species. As the field where the project is planned to be developed had to become attraction point next decision was to implement visitor center that would introduce into the field and the main intentions of synergic production. Final step orients toward building design process where structure itself is made of sustainable cardboard pipes which are earthquake resistant and easily disassembled while the porosity of the whole facade gives special perception to the landscape that is present outside of the building.
How important was the drawing as medium around which to talk and discuss the project?
It was very important, especially at the beginning when the natural phenomenons were still unclear and a bit abstract. Visualization of something invisible but crucial for the concept gave the whole new dimension for further development of the project. As the idea was constantly developing drawings were used also as a tool to better explain and realize what is the actual intent of the project. Furthermore, technical and detailed drawings helped to understand built structure, its construction and sequence of steps which must be undertaken to get the final outcome.
What tools did you use in the development of the project?
The part of the analysis was done with QGIS open resource program while next steps were more oriented toward master plan creation where google maps were used at the beginning for better context understanding and existing production while site visit was inevitable as the concept was proceeding. After choosing the location succeeding simulations were done with Grasshopper where master plan was the final outcome. Physical models were used to bring closer natural phenomenon and design in general, while the model of the building was purely experimental mainly concentrating to the structure and facade porosity. Design of visitor center was executed with parametric tools using Grasshopper as well while technical drawing were done with Auto Cad. Of course, all attachemnts had the final graphical post production in Illustrator and Photoshop.
How important was the use of satellite images and data?
As I already mentioned, satellite images and data played very important, even crucial role during first phases of the concept development while during subsequent phases personal experience and all the information taken during site visit became more valuable which took over the idea development to next levels.
How and to what extent have current mapping and satellite tools revolutionized how we perceive and understand our landscape?
They can be very precious for different kinds of landscape understanding, especially if we talk about factors that have an impact on landscape but are not visible by human itself. This is what we call ‘ the invisible forces ‘. Usage of satellite and mapping tools can significantly increase the level of our perception as we are able to see and understand diversity of elements that are somehow disappearing if we switch to any other tool. Even thought digital world and various online accessible information can be really essential for us in some points, I would never neglect well known Guy Debord and his ‘ Theory of Derivé ‘ as my opinion is that personal experience or a journey as Debord calls it should remain the main tool for perception achieving, eminently if we talk about landscape.
Are you interested in working in the Umbria region further?
Very interested. The nature that they have there is wonderful. History and architecture of Assisi city left truly strong impression on me and I would be looking forward the opportunity to visit that place again and certainly the whole Umbria region.