Leonardo Marchese (WUR) researched the opportunities for improving the landscape quality of the Ria de Aveiro, the most extensive lagoon system in Portugal and one of the most dynamic in terms of physical and biogeochemical processes.
Can you explain your choice of subject?
My choice for the thesis topic in landscape architecture has deep roots. Being an architect fascinated by mathematics and nature processes, I focused on a topic which gave me the possibility to expand my knowledge and learn how to cope with multiple uncertainties from as much as possible different fields combined. I also came to the Netherlands because I have been always attracted by the Dutch way of dealing with water, so I wanted to have the chance to understand how to think towards these issues and possibly export it or implement it in a design around the world. I have found this particular combination in Ria de Aveiro, an estuarine lagoon located in Portugal, which experience tidal flooding in a unique and complex way.
What or who are your sources of inspiration?
While studying in Wageningen I have been introduced to a completely new way of thinking, inspired above all by Jusuck Koh, retiring professor of design theory who really stimulated me. He made me consider architecture and landscape architecture as intertwining concepts supporting each other in a harmonious way. With his studies he investigated what lies behind the natural environment compared with selected designs, such as Katsura Villa in Kyoto, to elaborate theoretical concepts which I consider revolutionary.
Also, while researching my thesis topic, I came across SCAPE Studio ( scapestudio.com ). They really inspired me to include living organisms, such as the japanese oyster production, into my project in order to obtain not only economic benefits but also ecologic and cultural benefits at the same time. Their approach to landscape problems expands the idealistic borders of landscape architecture towards ecology, physiscs and hydrodynamics, engineering, plant science, geology but also antrophology and human behaviour. Their integration of research and design allows to propose extremely varoius design interventions which “enable positive change in communities through the creation of regenerative living infrastructure and public landscapes” (scape studio description).
What is the key moment in your graduation project
I think that visiting Aveiro and its estuarine lagoon really triggered my imagination and stimulated me to pursue certain goals in my project. While being in the area for some weeks, I have been in contact with several researchers who wrote scientific articles on flooding problems in Ria de Aveiro. Together with them, and Joao Dias (head of Physics Department in University of Aveiro) we organised a design session in which we discussed many ideas and their possible implications in the future of the lagoon in hydrodynamic terms but also regarding the landscape in itself. We really hypothised extreme options, such as opening a second inlet channel or border diking the whole lagoon, and their expertise evidenced the feasibility of the interventions in relation with multiple aspects. After that moment, I had very concrete findings and I narrowed down my intentions, convinced that my proposal could have immense potential.
Ria de Aveiro is the most extensive lagoon system in Portugal and one of the most dynamic in terms of physical and biogeochemical processes. Divided from the Atlantic Ocean by a sand bar, the lagoon presents an extremely varied landscape largely due to the intense influence of tidal movements. Its unique character has made Ria de Aveiro one of the most remarkable ecosystems in Europe, not only in size but also in biodiversity. The unusual and powerful marine influence in the lagoon supports the development and consolidation of a multitude of biotopes of great ecological importance. This last-named aspect is particularly due to the variety in the water salinity patterns and gradients found in the lagoon. In recent years, the landscape dynamics in the lagoon have intensified, so that there is an ever greater risk of flooding in agricultural areas, nature areas and even in the old centre of Aveiro.
First, the project presents an analysis of the landscape and its characteristics, arranged in landscape units. This gives an understanding of the landscape dynamics and how the different landscapes interact with each other. Next, the flood risk for 2100 has been assessed using a hydrodynamic model developed by NMEC Lab in Aveiro. The results have been applied to the landscape units to understand how the different areas in the lagoon would be affected. Three different approaches have been analysed with the aid of the hydrodynamic model to assess their effectiveness with regard to the 2100 flood risk. From these options, one has been chosen that ensures protection while providing opportunities for improving the quality of the landscape. The revival of the disappearing landscapes of the lagoon is then presented in a design whose aim is to explore and exploit the multitude of possibilities that this unique landscape has to offer.
Leonardo Marchese, contact
WUR / landschapsarchitectuur
What are you doing now?
While studying at Wageningen University I have been, especially in the last 3 years, working full-time for architecture and landscape architecture companies in the Netherlands. I am currently employed in Studio REDD, in Tilburg, as a landscape architect. Here I have the chance to express myself as a designer towards public projects but also in making private gardens. The small scale of the studio allows me to participate in all phases of a design process, learning and growing as a professional thanks also to valuable colleagues. Our combined different expertise allows us to learn from each other while being also in a cozy environment which makes people feel important and considered.
What hope / do you want to achieve as a designer in the near and / or the distant future?
My goals in the short term, now that I have completed university, are to obtain the landscape architect title in the Netherlands, learn the language and work some years in the country to learn as much as possible how to design while building connections. In the long term, when I would feel complete or simlply when I would feel that the time is right, I would like to run my own business exploiting the particular abilities that I would possess, if so, together with some other professionals; possibly in Italy, my homeland, but in combination with the Netherlands in a way.