Stefan Darlan BORIS
Institution: Aarhus School of Architecture – Denmark
Keywords: Landscape Architecture, Landscape Laboratory, Experimentation, Adaptation, Transformation, Urban Nature
This paper takes its point of departure the newly established Aarhus Landscape Laboratory on Eskelund, a 20 hectares urban-industrial woodland placed on a former waste deposit along the Aarhus River less than a kilometer from the city center of Aarhus, Denmark.
The Aarhus Landscape Laboratory is the fifth of its kind in the Nordic countries, the others being Alnarp Västerskog, Snogeholm, Sletten and Københavns Byskov, and differs from its fellow landscape laboratories on three points: Firstly, by being an already established site with existing 25-year old plantings and self-established habitats. Secondly, by having a deep and profound history of transformation over time. Thirdly, related to the second point, it is placed in a highly urban context in the larger territory of the Aarhus River Catchment Area (AARCA), which is undergoing a continued series of transformations caused by anthropogenic processes and urbanization.
Apart from incorporating methods and approaches from the other landscape laboratories this calls for an explorative approach to both territory, site and experiments where (1) adaptation, as in acknowledging and exploring the potentials of the existing, and (2) transformation, as in exploring the continued act of change on the site, both play a big role in creating new futures for Eskelund.
This has been explored in two ways. Firstly, by using the site as an out-door classroom where architecture students from the Aarhus School of Architecture have made a series of temporary interventions that explore and communicate spatial and experiential aspects of Eskelund. Secondly by using the site as a cross-disciplinary research platform for architects, biologists and artists to explore new urban natures in 1:1. Two experiments are of particular interest (established 2017 and 2018):
The first experiment consists of a 5.000m2 transplantation of nutrient poor but biodiversity rich habitats from a donor site further downstream to Eskelund as a nutrient rich but biodiversity poor recipient site. The key goals of the transplantation being to explore adaptation of the donor site to the site-specific conditions of Eskelund and to investigate if and if so how this adaptation continues in the future.
The second experiment consists of the establishment of 8 x 10 m wide clearings in a 25-year old planting with an overarching goal to explore the relationship between site history, spatial atmospheres and potential increase in biodiversity.