Wild and the City Landscape architecture for lush urbanism

Architecture Department at Roma Tre University
De Vecchi Room, Argiletum | via della Madonna dei Monti, 40
Rome, October 4-5, 2018

Conveners: Annalisa Metta and Maria Livia Olivetti

Untamed ecosystems and plots of wild nature increasingly constitute large parts of contemporary urban spaces. They are often the unbidden result of a long standing lack of maintenance as well as of the uncontrolled flourishing of weeds produced by the pesticides absolute ban. But they are also something more: in the last decades, reclaiming the aesthetic, ethic and ecological values of spontaneous nature is a recurring topic in many outstanding works of landscape architecture and inspires many urban strategies.

Many recently implemented urban open spaces deal with wild nature to solve some of the most urgent tasks of the contemporary cities: reclaiming areas fallen into disuse, designing sustainable infrastructures, revitalizing valuable public spaces, enhancing the ecological footprint of new developments, suggesting new practices and social ritual, reducing management costs, fighting climate change, satisfying the biophilic “desire of nature” of urban dwellers, and so on. They bring wildness out of the boundary of residual or neglected area, in the bold spotlight of urban centrality. So doing, they also add arguments to a long lasting debate about the couple nature-city, nourished by the history of public gardens and parks, whether confirming or blaming the western dualistic concept of separation between culture and nature, humans and wildlife.

Thus, some questions arises: Why and how can urbanity and wildlife come together? Why and how can we design and manage untamed urban landscapes? And further: How can we inhabit wild urban lands? Which kind of behaviors do they encourage? Which ethical and aesthetical categories do they entail? Finally, can landscape architecture work for lush cities, assuming lush in its double meaning, both as luxuriant, verdant, and as attractive, enticing?

This conference aims to inquire the role of wilderness in the urban realm, in a critical prospective. On one side, we will explore the proactive value of untamed landscapes as a priceless resource to improve urban quality, in terms of contemporary beauty, healthiness, livability. On the other, we will wonder about the risks of a possible ideological status of wilderness, as a fashionable label to renew anti-urban positions or a cliché of cheap-plaudits practice and politics.

The conference is organized in one day and a half with five sessions.

Session I | Defining the Frame. Chair: Isotta Cortesi. Speakers: Fabio Di Carlo, Franco Panzini, Günther Vogt.

Session II | City in Nature. Chair: Daniela Colafranceschi. Speakers: Teresa Galì Izard and Gabriele Paolinelli.

Session III | Designed to be Wild. Chair: Lucia Nucci. Speakers: Martin Schmitz and Jason Siebenmorgen.

Session IV | Living Matters. Chair: Federica Benelli. Speakers: Francesco Ferrini and Andrea Filpa.

Session V | Did you say Nature? Chair: Paolo Camilletti. Speakers: Mathieu Gontier and François Vadepied, Laura Zampieri.

Please, click below for the speakers’ abstracts and biographical notes.

Please, click here for the chairs’ biographical note.

Please, download here the W&C booklet and program.