Forgotten Landscapes: Restoring our Rural Imagination
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As our world becomes increasingly interconnected through technology and global trade, urban populations are more and more detached from the realities of our consumption and the cultivated land that supports us. These food producing territories, vastly exceeding the space used for human habitation, are structured in such a way to displace environmental systems and human life, while simultaneously being degraded by the growing requirements of today’s urban living. Advancements in industrial agricultural technology, alongside the subsequent migration towards urban centers, has played an important role in reinforcing these systemic changes and the growing disconnect between urban and rural. Despite this, urban populations retain a strong influence over land management and food production techniques, though often without an awareness of their impact. Thus, redeveloping human relationships with rural landscapes is a vital. This thesis utilizes the existing remediation approaches to problems of dryland agriculture in Western Australia to address the disconnect between urban areas and their rural footprint. By examining and documenting site history, psychology of rural places, local wildlife habitats and ecological functions, the design of a new framework for social infrastructure in rural areas is developed. This design proposes an intervention that engages human and environmental dynamics to catalyze consciousness towards rural systems. It promotes a diversity of social and environmental conditions within farming landscapes, leveraging under utilized land, flexible implementation strategies, cultural vestiges and existing infrastructure. Through research and design methods, this thesis hopes to reveal how an improved understanding of rural landscapes – by engagement with human scale intervention – can create cross collaboration and heightened awareness between urban and rural to develop a new consciousness of farmlands and the larger environment, for the benefit of ecological and human systems.