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Environmental Architecture (MA)

Yixin Zhang, Kaitong He

Yixin and Kaitong are interested in the exploration of the relationship between people and their environment. Their master's research focuses on the paradoxical relationship between the establishment of dams in political science, economics, ecology and the space of human existence.

Photographs of land performing which show the possible scenes and future of dam inundation.

Using the villages of Luz and Pisao in the Alentejo region of Portugal as examples, our team used model simulations combined with videos taken in the field trips to explore the dramatic impact of the creation of the dam on the local ecological corridor and the lives of the village inhabitants. The Luz village was forced to be demolished and rebuilt 20 years ago by the creation of the Alqueva dam, which dealt a heavy blow to the local people and the ecology. The village of Pisao is about to face the same plight as the Luz, or even worse neglect. Traditional agriculture will be replaced by intensive farming and irrigation, and tens of thousands of forests will be cut down. The inhabitants will lose their livelihoods and will hardly be compensated. The case of these two villages is a good illustration and complement to each other. By linking the present of the two villages in the video and anticipating the future of the village of Pisao, we hope to help us to narrate and critically examine the impact of the creation of the dam. A powerful intervention was shown through photographic archives and performances. Intervention is not only an evocation of a past that has already taken place, but also a way of asking those who expected the dam to be built whether it was really worth it. Who really benefited from the creation of the dam?

The images of the submerged landscape
The images of the submerged landscape captured in the Luz village were brought to the Pisao, while the existing landscape of Pisao was brought to Luz, in an attempt to respond to the echoes and distant connections of the possible common destiny of the two villages. The whole action emphasises the existence of the boundaries of the area that may be submerged in the future.
Location of the two villages
The central Alentejo region of Portugal, with the forthcoming Pisao dam and the village of Pisao to be submerged in the northern Alentejo, and the Alqueva dam and the village of Luz in the southern region.
Landscape changes following the creation of the Alqueva dam
A short film restoring the village of Luz that was flooded and forced to relocate by the completion of the Alqueva Dam. Based on 3D modelling and field images of the old village of Luz underwater, it documents what was lost.