Art | Ecology | Technology

And how we use them to shape landscapes.

Although all of the speakers at the ‘On the Trace’ conference organized by the The Saxo Institute at the University of Copenhagen last week offered abundant material for consideration, two organizations were discussed that are doing very exciting things in the way of heritage, preservation, and future potentials.

Heritage Futures presented by Rodney Harrison

“Exploring alternative ways of shaping future legacies and assembling common worlds across different fields of conservation practice”


Heritage Futures makes critical connections with projects from a range of disciplines and offers analyses of diverse projects as a means of showing that the field of heritage should not be approached singularly and is omnipresent.  Some of the information you can find on its site include: a link to SKB – Swedish nuclear fuel repository; a discussion of heritage efforts underway such as that around the Orford Ness Lighthouse in Britain; and a critique of the perception of heritage within the recent blockbuster, Interstellar.

Incompiuto Siciliano Archaeological Park presented by Pablo Arboledo

“It’s real because it’s there.”


Incompiuto Siciliano Archaeological Park is the brainchild of the artist collective Alterazioni Video who viewed incomplete public works projects as potential points of pride for their surrounding communities.  As Arboledo points out, these structures are Modern yet function-less in their incompletion and therefore reside in limbo of form defined by a function that never came to be.  Alterazioni Video implores communities to re-invent these spaces, starting with engagement and re-envisioning.


Landschaftspark Duisburg-Nord

“No one says Duisburg is lovely,” laughed my host who had grown up in the area.  Yet, to someone who spent years wandering around the abandoned grain mills of Buffalo, New York, the city of Duisburg, Germany not only has a working class atmosphere that is genuine and approachable, but also an antiquity not found in many much younger American cities.  Additionally, Duisburg is home to a significant and unique amenity of the late 20th century: a 220 hectare (543 acres) industrial park, Landschaftspark Duisburg-Nord.

Landschaftspark was developed from 1990 – 2002 as part of a larger redevelopment project, the International Building Exhibition (IBA) Emscher Park, which spans 450 kilometers (280 miles) of defunct industrial landscapes in the Ruhr Valley.  The IBA Emscher Park project was aimed at re-imagining the industrial heritage of this region in a way that would attempt to clean up some of the environmental damage caused by industry and invite a new image of progressive ecological and social engagement for the valley.

Landschaftspark set a precedent in site re-development by retaining its historic ironworks structures while also introducing public recreation and a complex landscape plan.   Alongside the former industrial structures are both ruderal species that have taken over more or less on their own accord as well as obviously designed gardens and pathways.

As one of the most talked about projects of post-industrial regional and site rehabilitation, there are countless analyses, critiques, and historic accounts of Landschaftspark. Without too much effort one can find out about the competition that kick-started the project or the designer Latz and Partner’s contribution to ideas of “minimal intervention” or the project’s experimental foray into phytoremediation.  As someone keenly interested in the history, ecology, and social value of derelict sites and their potential transformation, I was eager to visit Landschaftspark to gain a first-hand understanding of how it has settled into itself nearly twenty-five years after the project began.

Continue reading “Landschaftspark Duisburg-Nord”

NYT: “In Toronto, Looking to the Future in an Abandoned Park”

An article from the New York Times on September 23, 2016 by Chris Harmon highlights a week-long exhibition curated by the group Art Spin that uses artists to re-envision and re-populate a former theme park to the future.

“Our city, over the course of the last ten years or so, has been going through incredible, unprecedented development,” Mr. Pimenta said.  “Our industrial history is literally disappearing in front of our eyes.  What we do provides an opportunity, fleeting as it might be, to intervene and reimagine those spaces.”

Link to the full article here



“Once we understand that we are part of a perpetual process of metamorphosis, we will also accept that works of art can never be completed.”

Paula Llull, The New Earthwork: Art, Action, Agency

Himmestreppe (Skystairs) by Herman Prigann

An often talked about piece of land art and an artist who is noted for his intention to not just rework site aesthetics but also remediate the environmental damage done from manufacturing and industrial use.  

Halde Rheinelbe in Gelsenkirchen, Germany – Himmelstreppe sits atop a mound of debris from previous resource extraction done nearby. There is a simple use of materials; two styles of concrete are used to form the structure at the top and the stairway that leads to it and a simple metal railing runs alongside. The railing and concrete with larger aggregate beside the stairs seem to be recent additions to the site and, although practical, diminish the dramatic ascent of the stairs to the tone structure slightly. Continue reading “Himmestreppe (Skystairs) by Herman Prigann”

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