A design proposal from the Network for Advanced Architecture and Urbanism (NAAU) of Melbourne, Australia, shows how an industrial brownfield region might be transformed into a center for clean-energy development, sustainable agriculture, and eco-tourism. Titled “The Cultured Landscape,” NAAU's proposal was developed as an entry in a competition called “Transiting Cities -- Low Carbon Futures,” organized by the Office of Urban Transformations Research (OUTR) at Melbourne-based RMIT, a university of technology and design. The competition challenges urban designers to develop a vision for transforming the City of Latrobe and the surrounding valley from a center of coal mining and conventional electrical generation into “an innovative hub for low carbon solutions.” Coal-fired generation is slated to discontinue in the valley by 2030, and OUTR is seeking solutions for development and recovery of the region after that change.
Rather than simply let the Latrobe Valley revert to a supposed “natural” state, NAAU proposes a new urban design that retains and adaptively reuses “the significant industrial infrastructure as a visible presence within the landscape, an industrial archeology celebrating the social history of the site,” as well as inserting “new agricultural, infrastructural and cultural programs.” The existing power transmission infrastructure in the region should be used, the group believes, as a means “to tap and test the next generation of low carbon or carbon neutral generation technologies, uniquely suited to the variety of landscape and geological conditions identified within the competition site.”
The Cultured Landscape proposal would introduce geothermal and concentrated solar power generation facilities into Latrobe, connecting them into the larger electrical grid. New agricultural practices would be introduced into the region, including production of advanced biofuel feedstocks, sustainable farming, and local foods production. The plan would include cultural features such as sites for eco-tourism, outdoor sports, camping, and educational facilities that would “reference the proposed infrastructural and agricultural agenda of the region.”
NAAU is a new architectural and urban design group specializing in public and large-scale projects, led by Ben Milbourne, Edmund Carter, John Doyle, and Laura Mártires. The group sees its Cultured Landscape proposal as “a network of mutually supporting infrastructural, ecological, and social interventions” that promotes “a rebranding, rethinking, and reactivation of the region’s identity … promoting a form eco-industrial symbiosis, where human impacts are balanced and implemented within the metrics of social and ecological sustainability.”
Images courtesy of NAAU.