Urban wastelands are at the centre of conflicts around cultural, economic and historical hegemonies. The common notion still remains that wastelands are of no value until developed. However these types of spaces hold a unique and valuable role in the future of humanity as we question notions of progress and strive for more sustainable models of living. Urban wastelands support inner city biodiversity, provide carbon sinks, improve hydrological attenuation, provide open space and represent freedom from the controlled built environment. As metaphors wastelands typify the cause and effect of our constant (re)development.
Wastelands Berlin and Bangalore.
‘Promoting the idea of wasteland is obviously a tricky idea politically, since wasteland is a symbol of the withdrawal of the public authorities – withdrawal, not abandonment.’ Gilles Clément, 2008, www.blogsthema.marseille.fr
“The voids of the city are spaces which disrupt the urban tissue, leaving it incomplete and throw into question the use of those spaces. Sometimes called urban ruins, they are at the limit between private and public space, without belonging either to the one or to the other. Urban voids are containers of memory, fragments of the built city and the \’natural\’ environment; memories of the city which constitute a random, unplanned garden.” Noll and Scupelli, 2009, www.parole.aporee.org
Wasteland Twinning hijacks the concept of ‘City Twinning’ and applies it to urban Wastelands in order to generate a network for parallel research and action.
By subverting the City Twinning concept that aims to parade a city’s more predictable cultural assets and shifting the focus to wastelands, new questions of value and function are raised. Wasteland Twinning aims to develop an understanding of the potential of these sites through transdisciplinary models of practice. Wasteland Twinning is led by independent artists and researchers, that offers the potential for cultural comparison to take place on a local and international scale – going beyond the obvious to examine often invisible perspectives on power relations, land use, urban development and ecology. Through engaged and critical approaches, we hope to uncover some of the peculiarities and commonalities of the wasteland sites. The project aspires to challenge urban land use policy and bring wastelands and their users to attention – to be valued beyond the notion of ‘interim use’.
The online network – www.wasteland-twinning.net – will function as a catalyst for collaborative research approaches, critique and experimentation.
Wasteland Twinning provides the potential for cultural comparison to take place on a local, national and global scale. Wasteland Twinning is engaging with the notion of wastelands as a complex inter-working of social, natural, and technological worlds and providing a unique link between people and landscape. This act of formalised solidarity between land and people will go beyond simple gesture to provide practical platforms for cross-cultural exchange.
Field recordings by Khadija Bellahcen
Field recordings Berlin by Will Foster