FALLOWSCAPES, Territorial Reconfiguration Strategies for Arles, France

On a promontory on the left bank of the lower Rhone River, just before it reaches the Mediterranean Sea, the city of Arles presides over vast plains that, until fairly recently, were characterized as wastelands destined to remain permanently uncultivated. Once a thriving Roman outpost, built almost entirely from limestone quarried nearby, the city retains its original configuration. However, high unemployment for the past several decades calls for a renewed destiny beyond its high-end cultural and historical profile. By contrast, modernity radically changed the city’s hinterland, separating—in the Camargue Delta—salt from fresh water, and from sea, and redistributing fresh water from Alpine rivers into a filigree of canals that turned the arid Crau plain into a productive landscape. In the seams that formed between waterways, orchards, rice fields, quarries, logistics sites, infrastructures, and drainage ways, a fallowscape lies in a weird state of neglect. This studio will reconsider the interactions between systems and landscapes according to different scales, limits, time, and material, advocating for territorial reconfiguration strategies that investigate the existing and the potential, in order to face dramatic ecological threats and an enduring social crisis. All these issues and more will be brought together in the format of a libretto, articulating mapping, narratives, time-planning and designs in an open, interdisciplinary form.