‘Memories of a landscape’ is a manual for preserving cultural history by sustainable demolition, leaving behind a visible memory in the changing landscape. In this concept design the landscape tells the story, it allows people to keep enjoying our heritage and creates an impulse to biodiversity.
People are always adapting to the landscape and the landscape is constantly changed by our needs. This leaves marks of cultural history. Nature reserve ‘De Biesbosch’ asked me to look into an area called ‘de Noordwaard’ in the Netherlands. This area will be given back to nature as an overflow for the river Rhine and will be flooded for 100 days a year. As a result all buildings will have to go to ensure an unhindered flow. As parts of cultivated land are given back to nature the question arises: How can we preserve history in our ever-changing landscapes?
“I wanted to come up with a way of preserving important heritage by letting the landscape tell the story.”
A solution for this question cannot be easily found behind a computer. So I did a lot of hands-on research, which included taking tours with foresters and talking to the inhabitants of the farmhouses and the surrounding municipalities..
Based upon the acquired information we started various studies to explore new questions that emerged, such as: How can I visualise the changeability of the landscape without signage? Or how can I let people reflect on the landscape using their own imagination? Subsequently I explored the process of demolition to see how remaining materials could be reused in the landscape, while also looking into plant growth to come up with a way of enabling biodiversity by using these demolition remains.
“Sustainable demolition allows traces of cultural history to remain visible in an unique manner and could potentially create an impulse for the biodiversity of the area”
The manual is a concept and has not yet been tested. Due to economic reasons there wasn’t any follow up in ‘de Biesbosch’, despite serious enthusiasm. Different interests play a big role in this difficult process and often the argument is used that demolition is easier than sustainable demolition and preservation. The manual is still applicable for various landscapes or vacant sites and comes with a consult and a reading on how to cope with major changes in existing landscapes. It’s a way to ensure memories to remain for generations to come.
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