Slow Valley / A modest proposition to cultivate an Agrarian Landscape
Author: James Stevens
Affiliation: Lawrence Technological University and POLIS University
Located between a vast agricultural plain and the sea is a 10-kilometer fragment of land. This plot both interrupts the agriculture landscape with an abrupt line of hills and frames a valley of wetland estuary. The location is ecologically sensitive, diverse and beautiful. The site is the epitome of Albania today, displaying natural beauty alongside abandoned infrastructure of the former communist agriculture complex. Among the ruins is a local populous that subsists on the natural resources through both industrialized and preindustrial farming practices. This essay identifies the dilemma that faces this small fragment of land. It will question and interrogate the social, political and agricultural issues. It will seek to ask the questions for a landscape that finds itself undergoing economic pressure in rapidly developing Albania. Within the outlined constraints of context, time and place; a design proposition will be described that attempts to tend to, not fix, a small fragment of land containing a slow valley. (Fig.1)
Slow will be argued as an economic asset. This stands in contrast to many capitalist models but seeks to recognize the post-industrial context this fragment of land is situated. The valley is named in this study as slow valley due to both its relative speed in contrast to the city center and in the time needed to cultivate an agrarian life. It is intentional that the valley takes its name from the successful slow food moment in Albania. The modest design proposition presented is the physical manifestation that aligns with the slow food movement’s values (Gowing, 2017).
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