THE DESERT LANDSCAPE PROJECT PROPOSAL
by Carie Marill, Erick Lundgren and Design for the Living World, Nov.2015
The Desert Landscape Project is a long-term project that demonstrates three different understandings of human relationship with nature: the Holocene, the Present and the Anthropocene. The city of Phoenix is located in the Sonoran Desert. The project poses the questions: What does desert mean for the citizens of Phoenix? Can the desert survive in the urban landscape? How can we learn to co-exist?
A vacant lot in Downtown Phoenix is divided in three different desert landscapes:
THE HOLOCENE IS A RECREATION OF DESERT LANDSCAPE. It is the biggest part of the lot, facing 3rd Street. Native plants to the Sonoran Desert are planted in order to simulate original desert. However it is impossible to create the past since the present conditions have changed. Maintenance is needed, urban plants need to be removed as invasive plants.
THE PRESENT IS THE CURRENT STATE OF THE LOT. It is a continuation of the maintenance, which consists of cutting and spraying grass with weed killers, in order to keep visual standards of the city regulations.
THE ANTHROPOCENE IS A VISION OF CO-EXISTENCE OF DESERT AND URBAN PLANTS. Plants native to the Sonoran Desert and urban plants are planted in equal proportion. We expect that urban plants will gradually gain over native desert plants. There will be no maintenance, only monitoring to study how urban plants reclaim the land.
An essential part of the project is the visualization of the soil temperature and moisture. Sensors will by installed in the soil to study the differences. The analysis and interpretation of the collected data will be available to the public on the lot.
The empty lot has currently minimal vegetation due to landscape maintenance, which consists of cutting grass and spraying grass with weed killers. The owner does not anticipate construction in the near future. The lot has no access to running water. In the past there were two houses located on the lot. We presume that no soil pollution has taken place, however soil testing is required.
Creosote, brittlebush, palo verde, mesquite, little leaf bursage, jojoba, bush muhly grass, tobosa grass, assorted native annuals, barrel cactus, saguaro (cost depending), prickly pear, chainfruit cholla
Desert Botanical Garden (http://www.dbg.org/)
Nance Klehm, The Ground Rules (2015); http://socialecologies.net/, http://spontaneousvegetation.net/
Gilles Clement, TheThird Landscape; http://www.gillesclement.com/art-454-tit-The-Third-Landscape