Changing Places - Re:materialise  

Cultivation and conflict: public spaces of experimentation

Cultivation and conflict: public spaces of experimentation - UNSA University campus, Sarajevo 
By Gaila Costantini
Landscape Architecture, TU Delft


To change a place through a design is not a defined point in time, but rather a transition, that requires a great amount of flexibility. The proposed design, inspired by the theories of the French landscape architect Michel Desvigne, explores the aspect of time as a tool to coordinate the resources that will give birth to the project. Priority is given to the developmental process rather than the final design, which is presented just as one of the possible futures.

The goal of this transforming landscape in time is to enhance the existing by using its natural preconditions as activators and only the resources directly available on site: its language, vegetation, materials, and people. The ‘final state’ is the result of the coordinated interaction between these elements.

Strongly relying on a participatory approach, there is a need for immediate quality, that people can perceive. Agricultural practices fulfil this task, giving immediate meaning to the space, offering a common platform for different users to engage with the soil. The students of the Faculty of Agriculture can experiment with techniques such as forest agriculture or hydroponic production, alongside public spaces  for the inhabitants. In this way, experimentation is showcased to the people and is more likely to spread and raise interest. In time, the site turns into an ever-changing mix of agricultural fields, birch groves, anthropic forest and humid areas, from which the students of the campus and the city population will equally benefit.


The project focuses on the re-use of the materials, reducing external inputs as much as possible. In this context "materials” not only refers to the constructive ones, but to all the resources that will come into play in the shaping of the future design. The site’s language, materials and the different actors all collaborate and influence the unwrapping of the design.

(Image 2)

Asphalt: One of the goals is the removal of the hard asphalt surface, for it to be replaced with grasses and a new urban forest (image 2). Asphalt is removed in diverse ways and percentages to create a variety of microenvironments, coherent with the former traces. The asphalt is sold, used to construct paths or landscape objects around the campus. 

(Image 3)

Site’s language: The site has a strong language: the aesthetic of the decay, height differences and vegetation densities define the areas and their character. These characteristics become a tool to lead the discovery of the site and construct the kinaesthetic experience of the user (image 3). Vegetation densities and landscape objects of different heights are strategically situated around the campus, defining the paths of the user who is led to specific spots and able to reflect on the past.

The future of landscape architectural practice

Differently from architecture, landscape architecture deals with living matter. The implementation of a landscape project is just the beginning of its evolution as it beceomes a continuous flow of variations, ruled by natural rhythms. The awareness of these rhythms is what helps the landscape architect to understand the evolution of the territory and gives him the ability of supervising the process of transformation.

To guide this transformation in a coherent way, the focus needs to be on the existing resources: the materials, the vegetation and the actors that the design will influence, are at the same time its resources.

The role of the landscape architect should be the one of the “choreographer” of the forces; he is the one with means and knowledge to put them together in a constructive way.

For all these reasons, in the future the role of the landscape architect should not be finished at the moment of implementation, but it should evolve along with the developing process. From the more active tasks in the beginning, the professional should assume a long-term role. Year after year he becomes an observer and instead of “acting” on the landscape he will react to it. Observing its changes, adjusting the design accordingly, to reach a balance where the project is coherent with the designer's idea, but also with its own natural evolution.