Instructions for a Terrain Vague
2015

Landscape architecture proposal a la Sol LeWitt

  1. begin at the meeting of the long retaining wall and the short triangular wall, near to the corner;

  2. draw a line from the corner toward the space between the seafood market and the seafood bistro—where there are many trees in the distance, but only draw halfway there;

  3. draw a line from the same corner toward the space behind the seafood market, but only draw halfway there;

  4. draw a line from the stair that doesn't go anywhere toward the highest point of the retaining wall, but only draw halfway there;

  5. cut on the lines you have drawn, and finally, find the intersections of the three lines, chop up the asphalt between the lines, and stack the pieces on the eastern and southern sides of the hole.

 

Ignasi de Solá-Morales's 'terrain vague' reframes vacant sites, arguing that discarded human places have value without redevelopment.

As a proposal for a public art series in University City, MO, I investigated the potential for disused sites to generate new human and nonhuman encounters.

I located a site to contemplate terrain vague via GIS data (vacancy and distance from commercial activity) and interpreted conditions for deep, contemplative space. I landed in the corner of an expansive, disused parking lot, at the base of a massive retaining wall.

Intensities of the attributes of terrain vague and the ideal and non-ideal conditions for contemplation

Intensities of the attributes of terrain vague and the ideal and non-ideal conditions for contemplation

The site has the leaf clutter, street art, and 'stair to nowhere,' typical of a terrain vague. With the stair and the surrounding landmarks as the cues, I wrote an invitation for an excavation.

Found conditions onsite—namely an austere concrete retaining wall, a spray paint tag, a pile of leaf litter, and a stair to nowhere—confirmed that I had found a  terrain vague .

Found conditions onsite—namely an austere concrete retaining wall, a spray paint tag, a pile of leaf litter, and a stair to nowhere—confirmed that I had found a terrain vague.

The instructions could yield a number of possible results.

The instructions could yield a number of possible results.

4 Stacking contingencies

4 Stacking contingencies

Further instructions

Invite the neighboring meditation center to send practitioners to sweep the surrounding leaves into the hole.

ITV-09.jpg

The resultant condition could be permitted to evolve, becoming habitat, becoming playground, becoming garbage pile, becoming ruderal ecology, becoming stacks of ripped asphalt.