Moving Ground



Presentation / discussion and Selection


Abstract, Paper / artefact, and Poster


Landscape architecture
From Infrastructural Construction Sites to Landscape
Chiara Pradel

Files: abstract, poster, full paper

Fragments from proceedings (‘paper submission’)’:

The research main question comes from the observation of the construction phase of landscape architecture interventions, from private gardens to public parks planned and realized in the south part of Switzerland, as an opportunity to think about ground movements connected to the realization of projects that deal with changes of the site’s surface and ground transformations inside landscape.

The first step of the investigation is indeed a critical recognition, through photographs and topographical drawings, that interprets both the physical and the inspirational aspects of a number of earthworks, resulting from the excavations for buildings foundations, from land leveling processes and embankments or, most of all, from the inert waste relocation inside depots. In particular the investigation scrutinize their effects inside everyday perceived and familiar landscape, to finally question how today, beyond economic concerns, earth management practices and soil resources assessments, environmental and sustainability programs on a global and on a local scale, this earthworks could enter the design process.
The critical observation proceeds together with the construction of a theoretical framework, from the founding meaning of re-shaping the land with earth, moving through Dinocrate, Vitruvio and Leon Battista Alberti, Gottifried Semper, Robert Smithson or John Latham and the shifting of the significance of ground inside ecological urbanism and environmental landscape design, up to examine more technical literature that underlines the fundamental role of advanced technological approaches and normative aspects about moving earth inside construction sites. The overview of on-going infrastructural projects, like the AlpTransit railway, that deeply affect landscape and imply complex building sites, allows the observation of great earth’s volumes often not acknowledged and not easy to recognize, spread as spoils inside the nearest territories. The research, trough maps, sections and topographical drawings, finally becomes a chance to sight, inside broad and heterogeneous environments, how it is possible to relocate, reuse and recycle earth.

Moving ground, Landscape architecture, Earthworks, Infrastructural monument, Construction sites, Topographical drawings


The research is intended as an instrument to interpret and deepen the compositional, strategic meaning of moving ground actions inside the contemporary landscape design process.

Conclusions at this point of the research are intermediate, since the investigation is still in progress, however, the main objectives could be summarized as follows: • to foster a critical attention to the understanding of the landscape spaces resulting from ground movements during construction activities of infrastructures and to witness the effects of contemporary constructive actions on landscapes. • To claim the strategic value of design as a mean to find creative solutions between formal structures (revealing contemporary figurative and symbolic value of the ground) and fun tional requirements (as reuse of earth, reduction of C&D inert waste, optimization of construction sites in landscape, valorisation of new ecologies). • To evidence how landscape design interventions can inspire technical and ethical changes in infrastructures construction fields and vice versa. • To reflect on how, millennia after first ancestral earth mounds, earthworks inside landscape could today become part of a continuously renewed sublime collective imagination.