— Living Devices

Journal

Sowing Seeds of latent landscapes
Project awarded with the 1st Prize at the 8th edition of EME3 Festival that took place in Barcelona from June 27th to 30th at Fabra y Coats under the topic of “TOPIAS, Utopias becoming real”

 

 

In a fluvial context fully exploited by urban growth, intensive agriculture, and industrialization, our U- TOPIA introduces affordable solutions to reverse this trend by saving and growing endangered plants.
For a long time these small-organisms have had the ability to shape territories by spontaneously generating large-scale natural habitats. However, today they would barely survive without human intervention. In an entirely artificial and denatured landscape, they paradoxically appear as almost foreign viruses demanding new open attitudes to enhance the possibility of retaining them, not only in our environment, but also in our imaginary.

Sowing Seeds of latent landscapes is an attempt to rescue two biotopes from a state of amnesia. Planitial forest and wetlands where once extensively available landscapes along the Po River and its river basin that matches the Padana Plain, actually the most industrialized, polluted, and populated region in Italy.
According to a major study by WWF published in 2008, from the Middle Ages until present days 90% of Italian aquatic landscapes disappeared and since 1950, 3 million acres full of biodiversity were lost under asphalt and concrete.
This work began as a collaboration with a documentary filmmaker, but soon we discovered that our U-TOPIA was shared by all those people who daily dedicate themselves to protect and preserve fragile and endangered plants species. We decided, therefore, to transform our action into a concrete proposal by starting a collaborative process with the gardeners of a self-managed nursery dedicated to grow native plants, the Lombardy Seed Bank biologists and with a group of experts in kite construction.

Following these experiences we developed the Flying Seeds Sieve (a kite-shaped flying sieve containing a selection of the Padana Plain forest seeds), and the Seeds Spreading Islands (floating micro meadows of aquatic flora planted in a porous support of recycled plastics materials) that were used to experiment the re-naturalization of the steep banks and deep waters resulted from an abandoned gravel quarry.
These devices were designed and built to make them work as shells that could accommodate and protect within themselves a valuable biological component.

One of the main goals was the tentative reintroduction of the Marsilea quadrifolia a small aquatic fern, after 50 years of its disappearance from the region. Despite its massive eradication due to being considered a weed in rice plantations, some spores of this plant survived under the muddy grounds of the floodplain (where they can survive up to 100 years) and have been recovered and cultivated by the Lombardy Seeds Bank.
To plant, cultivate and reintroduce endangered biotopes is definitely an act that can be compared to the production of architecture as, consistently with architecture itself, its primary function is to create relevant spaces for life.