Project conceived and developed by landscape atelier ARscape A. De Comite, R.Bonadio
With the collaboration of:
Caterina Cipriani (designer)
Valentina De Comite (musica e suoni, foto)
Agathe Rosa (architetto)
Each of us has landscapes to escape to, even if only metaphorically, places that our minds identify with freedom or a return to a time in our lives, or a unique emotional dimension, “happy”, relaxing, identifying. Digging into the memory and working on the mental creation of contemporary spaces of escape, dreams and sociality, which is alternative to the acknowledged ones that boast a long tradition (in Siena, the contrade, for example) can generate collective maps capable of constructing new images of the city.
Developed in 2015 for the VERSO week of Contemporary Art and Architecture, the project stems from the need to approach the understanding of the perceived form of the city, the way people occupy its spaces, use them and appropriate them.
The carried out research taps into on and merges landscape, art, anthropology, design, sociology and architecture, and develops within the sphere of the so-called invisible topographies, through which the landscape is interpreted in its most contemporary sense, far from a purely physical, contemplative dimension and permeated with humanistic and phenomenological values, linked as it is to the perception and action of people on the territory in which they live, whether in urbanised, agricultural or “natural” areas.
In this vision, the landscape determines, narrates, writes in the memories and experiences of the populations it hosts, the sense of places, belonging to them and their identity. It takes on new meanings that are no longer objective, tangible, but also subjective and therefore invisible, linked to the perception, memory, experience and sensitivity of individuals.
The results achieved during this brief start up, developed during the summer months with the help of a heterogeneous working group composed of architects, landscape architects, sociologists, a musician and a web designer, on a sample of about 150 people drawn from residents in the historic centre and the outskirts of Siena, commuting workers, students and regular users of the city, allowed us to cartographically elaborate the tendency in the use and interpretation as well as the form of public space in Siena.
Starting from the answers everyone gave to the question “What is the place of escape in today’s Siena”, we investigated the new mental and physical flows in the city, and also “the changes that do not necessarily leave traces in the use of the land, but can have a serious impact on the landscape (exploring the immaterial dimension of the transformations); documenting the conflict between different images of reality, between different practices or activities that share the same space (exploring the conflictual dimension of the landscape); representing the processes of affirmation of new landscapes and communicating with the territorial operators”.
The method chosen for collecting the data (a pocket notebook given to each participant for a fortnight), which served to induce a slowdown in each of us with respect to the rhythms of everyday life in order to reflect on ourselves in a poetic way, outside the schemes and masks we often wear, to regain possession of secret spaces, even forgotten ones, but fundamental in the story of the identity and shape of a city, allowed us to assess the state of collective perception and the level of awareness of the value systems linked to the landscape.
Eead, analysed and synthesised into key concepts, each notebook defined the first value map in which each person let a mental place emerge between the pages which, according to submerged channels of consciousness (the orange threads of the map with the sailboats), as in underground Siena, found light in specific points of the city at specific times, states of use, light and seasons, gushing out at that point with a new load of values. No longer just a generic ‘beautiful’ or ‘ugly’, but the horizon, the calm, the night skies, the silence, the landing, the exchange, the sound of lives hidden in the houses, and so on.
In the participants’ stories, the city has dematerialised, taking on the appearance of islands with dominant characteristics, each with its own dimension and a possible conceptual relationship with other parts of the city that have yet to emerge, drawing a series of thematic routes that allow us to cross and get to know the city in a less hasty and superficial way, but in relation to its essence, which cannot be perceived except through the experience of those who live it and reconstruct it on a daily basis.
Beyond the various researches and experiments, designed for each specific territory/city, the interesting part of this kind of operation is the possibility to highlight critical or conflicting points, value systems that do not coincide and therefore generate debate.
We believe that the assessment of the state of collective perception can be an interesting step even if only to assess the level of awareness regarding those landscape related value systems and their evolution.
What is essential in the design practice is the need for each analysis to demonstrate its intentionality, to be able to strategically communicate the observation of phenomena or the character of places – this will be our final goal.
Elaborated materials were used during a workshop, in the same week of events, in order to identify further possible themes and directions of analysis, and interpret the “tendency” of this territory to build new reference tools for the programming/transformation action of the administration, so that sector operators could also improve the knowledge of similar experiences.
Tipologia: Progetto artistico con valenza paesaggistica all’interno della Settimana di Arte e Architettura Contemporanea “Verso”
Comune di Siena
Landscape, Art, Design