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Environmental Architecture (MA)

Lanzhi Zhang, Xiaotong Lai

Project’s aim is to integrate and analyse the dialogues and interactions between different actors and the soil, ultimately providing a more comprehensive understanding of agricultural extraction. Moreover, the project seeks to challenge the conventional definition of soil predominantly shaped by human perspectives and redefine it as a resource that transcends individual ownership.

The negative and irreversible effects of agricultural extraction are explored in a more readable visual form.

Silence is not a widely recognized or established term. However, it appears to be a metaphorical expression that refers to the lack of attention or concern given to the degradation of land and soil caused by unsustainable and intensive farming practices. In this context, silence takes on two distinct meanings - it can refer to those who are silenced and choose to remain silent, as well as those who cannot respond and therefore resort to silence. 

Our research site is located in the Villa Romana de Pisões, an area that is not only surrounded by intensive agriculture but is also an archaeological site. The scale of agricultural innovation began in the Roman period, marking the beginning of human claims on the land. The agricultural potential of this site was discovered due to the value of its soil, which has been assigned a function to develop large-scale intensive farming practices, presenting specific colours and textures on satellite maps. This focus on the rights of the soil has led to its isolation by humans, rendering it silent. 

Dialogue with Soils

Dialogue represents in our theme the way in which different people communicate with the soil. It shows how archaeology, agriculture and the inhabitants are brought into the corresponding events through the soil, which acts as a medium to indicate the relationship between the events and the environment and carries the basis for the events.

March, 2023
Maira's LifeMaira has lived here for over 10 years.She said In these last 10 years the landscape has changed a lot, they have covered her horizon. The tranquillity and peace that characterise the rural environment are gone. She was surrounded. Previously, Maria grew vegetables and fruits for her own consumption because she knew they were organic. And also raised animals, namely chickens, from 20 beaks but now she has only 3, as the whole environment is interconnected and consequently also undergoes changes.
Dialogue with Soil ScientistThe NDVI technique allows us to see the distribution of land under cultivation and fallow (the higher the red colouring, the higher the intensity of crop cultivation and growth on the land) and to observe the intensity and extent of seasonal extraction on the soil. The four graphs on the right show the data measured in April, June, September and December 2022, while the next graphs show the data collected from 2017 to 2022 at the site that we have visited during the field trip .
Soil Profile
Dialogue with ArchaeologistArchaeologists use remote sensing technology to scan deep soil and uncover valuable information about the ancient civilizations of Villa Romana de Pisões. A scientific investigation of the soil by archaeologists has revealed that more than half of Villa Romana de Pisões remains unexcavated. The unexplored site is covered by intensive cultivation of olive and almond groves. The historical value of the Villa Romana de Pisões pales in comparison to the economic benefits of agriculture.
Extraction from roots
Dialogue with Agriculture practiceWe use the form of root growth as a way of exploring the scale at which the soil is extracted. A super-intensive olive grove typically takes root in the soil for three to four years, and over time the depth, breadth and density of root growth deepen, from 10-20cm in the first year to nearly 100cm in the fourth. The deeper nutrients and values of the soil are gradually extracted.