The Bear’s Walk

new west land

PROJECT: CLARK PHILIPP STEVENS, AIA, APA
PROJECT DESIGNER: THOMAS DE VOSS
PROJECT ASSISTANT: BLAKE BETHARDS
PROJECT ASSISTANTS (ROME): PARIDE PICCINI, RICCARDO GAMBI, SARA ANGELINI
PROJECT ADVISORS: CARY TOMAS BELLAFLOR, LUIGI CENTOLA, CHARLES IRVING, GINA SANDO, LANI MAKUA, YAMASAKI

 

Drawing the line: a codex landscape
We began by walking a Marsican grizzly bear to Rome, finding the healthiest remaining ecological fabric between Sirente-Vellino Regional Park and the Piazza del Popolo. In the process we found that the route includes not only much of the province’s least degraded habitat, but also some uncanny, synchronistic linkages between Rome and Not-Rome. Having discovered these synchronistic markings and opportunities for ursine invasion of Rome, we proposed specific interventions to build on the stories and habitats latent in the land. These constructions are also restorations, meant to attract and anchor ecologically and story-rich inhabitation in the marketdriven meanderings of the suburban landscape. First, we propose a line connecting the Sirente meteor crater and the sunset of its birthday almost 1700 years ago. This demarcation, to be undertaken by aerial hydro-seeding of native seeds and grains, is a claiming of ground not as a basis of ownership, but as the basis of story, as a way to order the flux of the sprawl zone much as a magnetized rod organizes a field of scattered iron filings.
The rapid application and surreal green dye of hydroseed is critical to our project. We propose to seed meaning along the Sirente crater- Vatican line. The ancient Hindu manuscript, the Manasara Shilpa Shastra, prescribes the preparation of ground for sacred use by sowing a crop, followed by grazing and fertilization of the area by livestock, harvest, then the preparation, consumption, and partial “sacrifice” of the crop to the gods. By this process, the ground is physically and spiritually cleansed, an ecological and productive cycle completed, and the community’s intentions focused to redefine the place as sacred. While we realize that without the corresponding cultural traditions we can not expect to “zone” the sacred, we do expect the drawing of the hydroseed line to lead to investigations, questions, complaints and debate, and ultimately to the making of a commons. We propose that this ceremonially prepared ground (a linear piazza) be dedicated to whatever the future inhabitants hold sacred. Depending on the consciousness of the founding communities, the hydroseed line may host any number of cultural, recreational or symbolic uses- or may be once again forgotten, an empty space without a story to explain its emptiness. The more likely outcome is that the energy and personality of the new commons will, like a boulder in a stream, order the surrounding flux and create an eddy of dynamic stability, a place of rest. While Rome has created large open space reserves at its border with the Province, adjacent Province land has been value-enhanced by these protected “amenity” landscapes and proximity to the city, as well as by the apparently less stringent planning and approval process in Rome Province. Development is attracted to these areas, threatening the habitat corridors of the Bear’s Walk. The boundary of municipal control has become much like the old city walls of Rome, where opportunistic settlement quickly occupied the spatial and economic niche at the edge. The Hydroseed Line is proposed to provide an alternative to this wall effect, preserving the possibility for connecting habitats along the Bear’s Walk within a green infrastructure that cycles the waste of the suburban edge condition, filtering and restoring the soils and waters while producing energy, food, habitat and drawing meaningful inhabitation.

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