Transitional Territories

The works presented in the exhibition “ACCUMULATION—CLEARANCE” continues the new three years cycle of Transitional Territories Studio on the de- / re-territorialization of places, structures and cultures between land and sea: the palimpsest of traces of inhabitation, production, and infrastructure projected on land, river and ocean grounds, which define the urban as a material and socio-ecological space. As guiding principle, the opposing and/or at times iterative notions of accumulation and clearance are at the core of the study. By looking into centres and repeated cycles of accumulation and their externalities, we aim to document urbanisation, its impact on present and future environment and life. The project continues in a search for alternative forms of critical design as acts of care.
The research on the state of the territorial project is developed in collaboration for the second year with Diploma Unit 9 at the Architectural Association. The Unit develops projects on a territorial scale, with a strong focus on spatial diagnostics and territorial transformation. At the heart of the studio lies the idea that crises should be revealed and designed rather than latent and suffered. This year, DIP9 continues to diagnose the current condition of the built environment and reveal its latent crises, with a specific focus on those of funding. Advocating for territorial trans-formations and institutional adjustments, the unit will propose strategies of collective responsibility towards our environment, consider ecological restoration as a catalyst for profound spatial and political change, and weave together spatial conditions through the dissemination of civic infrastructures.

Four lines of inquiry
subjects. composition. alteration. limit. projections
. Matter
. Topos
. Habitat
. Politics

Mapped and projected under the lenses of the notions of
. Accumulation
. Clearance

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Curated by
Transitional Territories Studio 2021-2022
Website
o-ko
Photography ‘Image’
Oana Irina Ionasc (Venice, Italy)
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Transitional Territories 2021-2022:
*Inland, Seaward. The Form of Time and the Politics of Space*
Enzo Yap
Esmee Kuit
Hugo López Silva
Isabella Trabucco
Katerina Inglezaki
Kelvin Saunders
Luiz do Nascimento
Minyue Jiang
Monserratt Cortes Macias
Oviya Elango
Patrisia Tziourrou
Samuel van Engelshoven
Xiaoling Ding


Pantopia / AA Diploma 9 2021-2022:
*No Money, No Cry*
Anahita Brahmbhatt
Rashad Fakhouri
Sabrina Hoi Ching Lee
Charlotte Li Wen Phang
Jia Wei Huang
Zeena Jamil
Pierre Zeboni
Nikitas Papadopoulos
Jean-Daniel Maly Kouassi
Ioana Iordache
Judi Diab
Yanhua Shen

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The exhibition opened on March 17th 2022 with invited design critics Daniel Daou (UNAM), Johanna Just (ETH), Chiara Cavalieri (UCLouvain), Roi Salgueiro Barrio (MIT)

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TUDelft
Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment
Transitional Territories Graduation Studio 2021-2022: 'Inland Seaward. The Form of Time and the Politics of Space'

Transitional Territories is an interdisciplinary design studio focusing on the notion of territory as a constructed project across scales, subjects and media. In particular, the studio focuses on the agency of design in the (trans-)formation of fragile and highly dynamic landscapes between land and water (maritime, riverine, delta landscapes), and the dialectical (or inseparable) relation between nature and culture. The studio explores through cross-disciplinary and situated knowledge (theory, material practice, design and representation) lines of inquiry and action by building upon Delta Urbanism research tradition, yet moving beyond conventional methods, spatial concepts and constructs.

For the academic year 2021-2022, the studio continues the three years cycle “Inland Seaward” on the de-/re-territorialization of places, (infra) structures and cultures between land and sea. The studio approaches the contemporary instability of environmental, climatic, political and socio-economic structures and urban formations, the sense of disruption and mutation that they cause, as the object of design. We understand that the traditional instruments for urban design and planning are not able to address the complexity and urgency of societal and environmental challenges defining urban life. Therefore, we approach the instability in our disciplinary practice as our collective effort in the studio, envisioning, programming and designing material and ecological spatial interventions that are able to imagine and demonstrate different futures for climate adaptation, water related risk management, energy transition, forms of inhabitation and productivity in highly dynamic and/or severe altered landscapes.

Transitional Territories builds upon a long-established collaborative platform (science, engineering, technology and arts) on ways of seeing/seizing, mapping, projecting change and critically acting on highly dynamic landscapes. At the core of the Delta Urbanism Research Group, the studio is embedded within/and supported by the interdisciplinary TUDelft Delta Futures Lab, in close collaboration with the CEG and TPM Faculties.

For the second year, the studio closely collaborates with the Architectural Association, School of Architecture, London - Diploma Unit 9 / Pantopia on the current status of the territorial project. Tutors: Stefan Einar Laxness | Antoine Vaxelaire.


Transitional Territories
Studio Leader
Taneha Kuzniecow Bacchin

Studio Coordinators
Taneha Kuzniecow Bacchin
Luisa Maria Calabrese

Instructors | Mentors
Taneha Kuzniecow Bacchin
Luisa Calabrese
Fransje Hooimeijer
Denise Piccinini
Diego Sepulveda Carmona
Nikos Katsikis
Leo van den Burg

Students
Enzo Yap
Esmee Kuit
Hugo López Silva
Isabella Trabucco
Katerina Inglezaki
Kelvin Saunders
Luiz do Nascimento
Minyue Jiang
Monserratt Cortes Macias
Oviya Elango
Patrisia Tziourrou
Samuel van Engelshoven
Xiaoling Ding

Graduation Sections/ Chairs
Urban Design
Environmental Technology & Design
Spatial Planning and Strategy
Landscape Architecture

image

Samuel van Engelshoven

Three drawing sequence:
Composition - Alteration - Limits of 'Topos'

Topos shows the natural world beyond humans and animals. Its primary goal is to understand the elements influencing water infiltration. Topography is the base layer as its cycle of adaptation is the slowest. Topography significantly influences water infiltration as quick water run-off is more likely on steep slopes. This means all areas with steep slopes are of interest as it could create an extreme discharge peak in combination with extreme rainfall.

Three other layers which influence the infiltration capacity are projected onto the topography. Forest cover positively influences rainwater absorption. The soil structure is more capable of water infiltration due to its organic make-up. Furthermore, tree roots, both living and decaying, can transport water underground much faster than the soil can (Marritz, 2021). Each type of soil has a different infiltration capacity; therefore, an additional layer showing high water absorption capacity is added. The importance of a high infiltration capacity is dependent on the amount of water a particular location receives. Areas with relatively high annual rainfall are added to the composition.

Most steep slopes are covered by forest and have a relatively good infiltration capacity. However, steep slopes around the Rhine and its main tributaries are often lacking forest cover as they are mainly used for viniculture, making them fragile for extreme water run-off. The northern Upper Rhine Valley and north of the Ruhr tributary are remarkable areas as they have a low infiltration capacity while having a landscape marked by gentle slopes.

Forest cover and topography are the leading factors for the infiltration capacity. To understand the possibilities of development of these infiltration landscapes, both factors are looked at through time. Topographic alterations are happening at a languid pace; any significant changes to the topography would fall outside the scope of this research. Forest cover changes relatively fast. However, in western Europe, the change in forest cover has developed at a slower rate than, for example, the Amazon rainforest. The past 100 years, the forest cover has remained relatively stable. Looking back more than 3000 years gives a better representation of deforestation. 1000 BC, about three-quarters of Western Europe was covered by forest. This means that nowadays, the infiltration capacity of this land, including the Rhine basin, is significantly lower than its pristine natural state. Gradually, more pressure has been put on the rivers, making floods more common and severe.

Sources:

Samuel van Engelshoven. Symbiotic Waterscapes. Interdependent water management in the urbanized and cultivated landscape of the Rhine basin. MSc. Urbanism Thesis, Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment, TU Delft. Transitional Territories Studio 2021-2022.


Luiz do Nascimento

Three drawing sequence:
Composition - Alteration - Limits of 'Topos'

Composition
*Diversity of land uses along the basin + Hydrography and Topography*
Following the course of the Tietê, from its source on the Coastal Mountain range until its mouth in the Paraná several different landscapes are found. These distinct sceneries have been built throughout the centuries by processes of urbanization, with the extraction of resources as the ultimate goal of every new wave of urbanization and conquest of the hinterland since the 19th century. Hence the enormous amount of land destined for agriculture and cattle farming middle and downstream, in former areas of forest which have been torn down for the plantations of coffee during the 19th and 20th centuries.
The remains of the forest are restricted to the steepest areas of the Mountain Range, and have been preserved by the difficulty in accessing these pieces of land due to the harsh topography, but also by conservation efforts and the establishment of several nature reserves and State Nature Parks.
Furthermore, one type of land cover - or the lack of it - commonly found along the basin is enormous amounts of land left barren, exposed and unused for months in a row. Due to the low levels of rainfall during the past couple of years, some plantations of sugarcane were torn down due to their low levels of productivity. The unfortunate combination of exposed and eroded soils, lack of natural vegetation acting as a wind barrier, and severe wind storms propitiate the formation of dust clouds across the Basin.


Alteration
*Changes in the landscape of the basin by agriculture activity*
The formation of the vast areas dedicated to agriculture production along the Basin is a very complex and non-linear process. Before the arrival of colonizers and farmers opening the way for the expansion of coffee plantations, most of the Basin was covered by luxurious Atlantic Rainforest, one of the Brazilian biomes home to exuberant fauna and flora, being one of the hotspots for biodiversity of the planet. The existence of the forest for so long, and with it the enriching of the soil by organic matter, along with the moderate climate and availability of water from the rain is what makes the region very suitable for the plantation of coffee. The richness of the soil is transformed into capital, and so São Paulo became the most affluent region of the country.
With the tearing down of the woods for the plantation of coffee, many of the ecosystem services ceased to exist and the amount of rain and episodes of frost have been severely impacted by the change in land cover ever since the 19th century (Victor et al, 2005). As the intensive agricultural practices continued and the coffee crops showed the first symptoms of exhaustion, new forested areas were sacrificed to make way for the implantation of new coffee plantations. The former crops, now abandoned and subject to strong erosion, were then transformed into cotton land and cereal lands and, as a last resort, into pasture lands.
With the green revolution, areas that had been abandoned due to the impoverishment and erosion of the soils found a second purpose with the plantation of commodities once again, such as sugar cane, corn, and soy. Dependent on the heavy usage of pesticides and machinery, these crops trigger an ecology of environmental, social, and economical crisis in the country.


Limits
*Deforestation, rising temperatures and rainfall*
The urbanization process of the State was heavily dependent on the deforestation of the Atlantic Forest. Either for opening the way for the coffee plantations or acquiring wood for the construction and operationalization of the first railways, very little is left of the former forest. The decrease in the area covered by the Atlantic Forest corresponds to the clear increase in average temperature in the City of São Paulo (although apparently aligned with global average temperature rises).
Due to its location on the Basin, close to the Atlantic Ocean and, therefore, in the way of humidity going from the Atlantic towards the hinterland, the amount of rainfall in the city has not changed too much. On the contrary, it appears that the heavy rainfall occurring every summer seems to be getting more intense and higher in volume. This is clearly explained by Makarieva and Gorshkov (2007):
“Thus, in the absence of biotic control the transport of moisture to land would only be able to ensure normal life functioning in a narrow band near the ocean of a width not exceeding several hundred kilometers; the much more extensive inner parts of the continents would have invariably remained arid.”

Sources:

Luiz Felipe do Nascimento. Regeneration of Ecological Integrity in the Tietê River Basin. MSc. Urbanism Thesis, Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment, TU Delft. Transitional Territories Studio 2021-2022.


Minyue Jiang

Three drawing sequence:
Composition - Alteration - Limits of 'Topos'


Composition
Topos reflects the series of changes brought about in the process of accumulation to the site itself. These changes are non-biotic. The diagram shows the changes in landcover that have occurred over the last twenty years as a result of urban expansion. The red areas show the space where urban landscapes have replaced the original nature landscapes. In addition to the expansion of areas around large cities, the expansion of small towns in the in-between territory is also noteworthy.

Alteration
The hard surface of urban landscapes prevents the infiltration of water from surface to sub-surface. The occurrence of ponded water in cities is solved by the grey infrastructure of the sewage systems. This artificial approach to the water cycle further increases the risk of flooding. Nature-based solutions approach to flood management looks to the capacity of ecosystems to achieve water retention and sequestration.

Limit
Under the objective of flood resilience future for the ABC mega region, the contradiction between nature landscapes and urban landscapes is that the accumulation of development of urban landscapes, including urban and mobility infrastructures, causes a significant increase in the fragmentation of nature landscapes. The connectivity of landscapes influences the risk of flooding to some extent. A new paradigm needs to be set to address the balance between these two.

Sources:

Minyue Jiang. MSc. Urbanism Thesis, Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment, TU Delft. Transitional Territories Studio 2021-2022.


Hugo López Silva

Three drawing sequence:
Composition - Alteration - Limits of 'Topos'

The first compositions on “accumulation” investigate the contribution of energy to the near-approaching climate and social collapse. It focuses on the mode of energy of the non-renewables and its contribution to the damage in local and planetary ecosystems.

The investigation follows lines of inquiry that are in line with the main adaptive cycles and related times of change. In that sense, the main adaptive cycles relevant for the place and topic are identified and the related times of change addressed. “Topos” looks into the extraction, movements and volumes of this energy feedstock by mapping its infrastructures.
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“Topos” looks into infrastructures for this mode of energy. The geological layer composes exactly the fuel for the Great Acceleration and fossil capitalism. It has been able to generate enormous productivity growth because fossil fuels have a high energy return on energy invested (EROI). EROI is a measure of energy quality. It is a ratio of energy outputs to energy inputs. Fossil fuels have been able to drive productivity growth because we have to invest relatively few resources to get large amounts of energy out of them. (Mair, Druckman and Jackson, 2020) However, this investment does not come without ‘externalities’ from sub-surface to the atmosphere.

Not only the topos is extracted, but its material is also distributed. The operational landscape of the basin is highly manipulated. The cartography shows the networks of distribution of this energetic geological strata and of primary and converted energy in the subsurface, ground or the atmosphere.

Underground, the extracted material runs through pipelines for oil and gas. On land and on water, this material is distributed in webs that reach the whole globe. The Port of Rotterdam, at the discharge of the Rhine River to the North Sea, is “the absolute leader in the throughput and storage of crude oil. The 95 to 100 million tonnes of crude oil annually entering Rotterdam are almost entirely destined for refineries in the port itself and in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany.” (Port of Rotterdam, 2022) A little bit further up the Rhine river, in the Lower Rhine region, it is possible to see an intensification of these webs, surely related to the cluster of power plants in the region. Lastly, after the conversion of primary energy into secondary, the electricity is distributed in a highly connected web of transmission lines. Lagendijk (2015) points out that this started to take form towards the end of the 1920s when authorities shifted the focal point towards constructing transmission lines within their respective borders. Partially in response to these nationalistic tendencies, engineers started to suggest schemes for a European electricity system. This included a European electricity grid, which was under discussion from 1929 until 1934. The notion of a European system gained prominence in engineering circles and beyond, to little avail, but lingered on after 1945. While wartime brought better interconnections, European cooperation received a further boost after 1945 when electricity became a priority for planners.

In the current mode of production, the limit of the non-renewables is the complete depletion of its primary forms of energy or the realisation that cleaner ways of energy production are needed. In that sense, the graph shows the historical and future situation for Germany, with the estimated volume of material still left to be explored. Germany is an example for the whole region. Looking at the historical development of exploration of the topos in the region, Lagendijk (2015) states that electricity companies, like RWE, now own power plants and transmission lines in various countries. They used the region’s resources as a stepping stone towards becoming European players. Key parts of the current-day European grid are also based on the Rhine’s resources. Electricity systems grew as industries matured along the Rhine, as the exploitation of water and coal resources intertwined with the development of the metallurgic and chemical sectors.

This practice of extracting the work of nature, generated by billions of years, needs to be rethought now in the transition to a renewable era. It is an opportunity to redistribute value and avoid exploitative practices that lead to deepening environmental depletion and social collapses.

Sources:

Hugo López Silva. Memories from worlds yet to be inhabited: Terraforming from energy landscapes in the Rhine basin. MSc. Urbanism Thesis, Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment, TU Delft. Transitional Territories Studio 2021-2022.


Isabella Trabucco

Three drawing sequence:
Composition - Alteration - Limits of 'Topos'

Topos – Composition

For the Topos, Habitat, and Matter come together, showing the collateral effects of an interaction gone wrong between the two. In the Composition the Canale Malamocco-Margera or Canale dei Petroli is represented. This canal is connecting the Adriatic sea with the commercial port of Marghera and it was dug to let the oil cargo boat into the lagoon. It was built between 1964 and 1968 and it was led by the Genio Civile and Opere Marittime institutions. It is for Italy the time of the economic explosion, which guided huge engineering projects such as the Vajont dam too. The canal is 15 km long, and it had at the beginning of a depth of 18 m. All the sedimentation that was coming out of the digging was used to reclaim lagoon territories south from the Fusina port. Like this three casse di colmata were created to build an annex of the port of Marghera. The casse are still recognizable today in the landscape, but because of the Acqua granda catastrophe of 1966, the works towards a new harbor were stopped. It is well understood that one of the causes of the flood of 1966 was indeed the digging of this canal. (Zanetti, et.al., 2016)

Topos – Alteration

In the Alteration, it is demonstrated through sections over time, how indeed the canal affected the sea-level rise and the subsidence of the city. We can observe from a time span between 1800 and 2100 how the sea grows and the land sinks. Looking at the 1966 section, it is clear how a deep change has happened. An Acqua Alta of 194 cm is still the highest ever registered, which rings a very loud alarm bell. From that year forward, we see an exponential pace for the sea rising and the land sinking.

Topos – Limit

Topos, shows us with an example of the past that resonates loud in present and the future, a need for delicacy in interventions regarding the lagoon. The diagram of the Limit shows the simple but worrying graph of the sea-level rise above an Archive picture of the Acqua granda of 1966, showing how it is important to avoid the breaking point of the conflict between Inland and Seaward, Matter and Habitat. This image brings a paradox forward. The future projection indicates a drilling need for intervention: if we want the lagoon and Venice to survive, it is crucial to do something to prevent the sea-level and the subsidence to arrive to unbearable levels for life. At the same time, this example of water engineering teaches us the hard lesson that the lagoon is a delicate ecosystem which indeed needs maintenance but also needs its own independence. Here lies the question on how to intervene for the safeguarding of Venice without creating even more worrying results?
It can be said that this canal is the cause of a lot of negative consequences on the lagoon’s environment. Is therefore maybe the location which brings more potential for a possible act of Clearance?

Sources:

Isabella Trabucco. A Project of Non Resistance. Venice, 21st March 2100. MSc. Urbanism Thesis, Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment, TU Delft. Transitional Territories Studio 2021-2022.


Oviya Elango

Three drawing sequence:
Composition - Alteration - Limits of 'Topos'

The line of extraction of water starts upstream higher in the altitudes by damming huge expanses of land(Periyar Dam, Idukki dam, Vaigai dam), typically having catchment areas embedded forest of Periyar National park, Srivilliputhur and Megamalai tiger reserve, Idukki wildlife sanctuary. Further changes into check dams, ponds, harvesting pits downstream. The Periyar river basin has been operationalised to the extent of building 14 dams and 2 check dams by Kerala and Tamil Nadu has built one dam and a weirs. The basin is responsible for 59% Kerala’s total hydro power through power houses at 9 points along the river by Kerala and one by Tamilnadu. These dams hold 25% of annual flow of the river which is 2930mcm. Out of the 14 dams situated in the 4 sub basins, water from major larger projects such as Mullaperiyar, Idamalaiyar is diverted to Tamilnadu. The dam has been vital to people living in the drought-prone districts of Theni, Dindugal, Madurai, Sivaganagi and Ramanathapuram of Tamil Nadu. It irrigates about 220,000 acres of land and supplies drinking water to Madurai city and smaller towns. The infrastructural alteration in these river basins for sustaining human life has led to the total collapse of the hydrological cycle in the Vaigai river and the Periyar shows signs of extremely stressed systems not capable of handling varying precipitation. The question is how did a river such as Vaigai which sustained life for more than 2000 years go dry within a span of 50 years? To figure out, the changes in control of hydrology have been analysed.

From a natural state of the hydrological flow of water, humans have appropriated these systems through time. Starting from the 12th C inscriptions found along the river Vaigai talk about the efficient water management systems devised by the Pandiya Kings. The Pandiya Kings constructed many check dams and system tanks across Vaigai river, some of it recorded in inscriptions in temples. They understood the importance of water management living in a largely agrarian society.(The History of Water Management - The Hindu, n.d.). Later the Mullaperiyar dam was constructed in the 1890s linking the Periyar and Vaigai river basins to supply additional water required for irrigation and domestic purposes. Additionally the British era brought in a significant change by bringing in macro-level planning and management of water resources, stripping the relationship people had with the water bodies and disrupting the functioning of the tank system. Post-independence the construction of Vaigai dam in 1959 led to the reduced flow of water to the network of tanks downstream and water became increasingly inaccessible and centrally managed.

The ongoing conflict between the two states for decade about the decommissioning of the 125 year old Mullaiperiyar dam has exacerbated after the flooding of 2018 and 2019. The failure of the dam results in flooding ofcity of Kochi with a population of 3 million people and the decommission of the dam means 3 million people living around the Vaigai river basin will loose their water security.

Sources:

Oviya Elango. Territorial Adaptation through Co-habitation in Critical Geographies. MSc. Urbanism Thesis, Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment, TU Delft. Transitional Territories Studio 2021-2022.


Xiaoling Ding

Three drawing sequence:
Composition - Alteration - Limits of 'Topos'

Composition
The River Meuse flows over a distance of 950 km, through Haute-Marne, Vosges, Meuse, Ardennes, Belgium, and the Netherlands before reaching the North Sea. Surprisingly, the worst flooding occurred not in the most intense rainfall upstream, nor the downstream delta, but in Limburg Province in the middle. To figure this out, analysis needs to be done at a macro scale.

Alteration
The map depicts the terrain of the lower and middle Meuse River. The river basin that flows through Belgium belongs to a highland valley. Limburg is the Dutch province bordering Belgium, most of which belongs to a stream valley. Downstream, deltas are on the plain protected by embankments.

Topographically, a stream valley doesn't have as much natural space to accommodate floods as a highland valley. Therefore, the same volume of water does not cause losses in the highland valley and may flood the waterfront habitat if it flows into the stream valley.

Limit
In the case of the Netherlands, the Hague, Rotterdam, and other densely populated cities are located on the lower reaches of the Meuse River. To better protect them, Limburg will have to take on the responsibility of releasing the water, reducing the water levels as much as possible as it passes through it, to relieve pressure on the dikes downstream (Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, 2021).

As a result, many municipalities in the stream valley, such as Roermond, will have overflows when the upstream discharge increases from 3,950m3/s to 4,600m3/s (Wesselink et al., 2009). This requires them to reserve as much space as possible for the flood plains and develop adequate risk plans.

Sources:

Xiaoling Ding. Towards a Flood-Resilient Civil Society. Flood Risk Adaptive and Governance Strategies in Roermond. MSc. Urbanism Thesis, Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment, TU Delft. Transitional Territories Studio 2021-2022.


Esmee Kuit

Three drawing sequence:
Composition - Alteration - Limits of 'Topos'

The landscape of the province of Zuid-Holland as it is now known has been shaped by the creation of polders. These polders, still almost exclusively the same as they were drawn up in the mid-1800s, vary in size and shape and have therefore very different feels, but share characteristic feats as the dike (Bobbink, 2016). These dikes ensured the security of dry land, as well as the possibility to create safe, navigable waters. These waters could then be used to transport people and goods throughout the province. For the main waterways in the province that was the principal use for two centuries after the creation of the barge canal network in the 1600s.

The creation of polders was a necessary course of action to use the area in a functional way. The polder system ensured security against the water and made it possible to live and navigate the low-lying land. Over the centuries, new technologies made certain that the land in the area stayed dry enough to build upon. This has increased the possibilities of being able to live in the area but has also increased the depth of the area and therefore the threats (F. L. Hooimeijer, 2011; Meyer, 2001).

The constant alteration that has been illustrated is a vicious circle. Because of the alteration, the soil sinks and is prone to be saturated with water again. Machines have to continue putting in the work to maintain the soil in a constant state of dryness. This vicious circle has negative repercussions, for the economy, the ecology, and the climate (PBL, 2015; Provincie Zuid Holland, n.d.). How long can this vicious circle continue?

Sources:

Esmee Kuit. Creating new values with old connections: The case of Zoetermeer, Zuid-Holland. MSc. Urbanism Thesis, Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment, TU Delft. Transitional Territories Studio 2021-2022.


Katerina Inglezaki

Three drawing sequence:
Composition - Alteration - Limits of 'Topos'

Composition

The region known as Campo de Cartagena is associated with three main aquifers: the Carrascoy Triassic aquifer, the Victorias Triassic aquifer, and the aquifer also called Campo de Cartagena. The latter is a multi-layered aquifer whose layers were formed during different geological periods. Its lower layers have a serious issue of overexploitation since farmers have been looking for water at increasing depths for decades by constructing their own wells. The upper layer, on the contrary, the one formed during the Quaternary period, is the one connected to Mar Menor and does not have a similar problem of water quantity but is facing a different situation. Seawater intrusion, the filtration of irrigation water, which has increased since the construction of the transfer, as well as periodic intense rains, have made the water table so high that water surfaces onto the ground at certain times.

The hydrogeological functioning of the aquifers that make up the Campo de Cartagena aquifer is complex due to its geometry and a high degree of anthropization. The sedimentary fill of the aquifer is mainly composed of detrital sediments (marl) with intercalations of highly conductive material (limestones, sandstones and conglomerates), which were deposited in the period between the Tortonian and the Quaternary. The sands and conglomerates of the Tortonian, the limestone of the Messinian and the sandstones of the Pliocene make up the deep aquifers, while the detrital sediments of the Quaternary constitute the surface aquifer. The regional hydrogeological system is a multilayer system composed of (Aragón et al., 2009; ITGE, 1993, 1991; Rodríguez Estrella, 1995):
- the shallow aquifer of Quaternary age, composed mainly of sands, conglomerates and sandstone with intercalations of silts and clays,
- the intermediate confined aquifer of Pliocene age, called Loma Tercia, is composed mainly of sandstones,
- the deep confined aquifer of Messinian age called Venta la Virgen, also composed of sandstones, and
- the deep confined aquifer of Tortonian age, composed of sands and conglomerates.
The aforementioned main aquifers are separated by low or very low conductivity aquifers: the Quaternary and Pliocene aquifers are separated by marls and evaporites. As can be seen in the section on p.41, the Quaternary aquifer is separated from the Pliocene aquifer by a low conductivity aquifer more than 40 m thick. The thickness of the aquitard decreases towards the edges of the basin, especially towards its southern edge, which could give rise to hydraulic communication between the free Quaternary aquifer and the confined Pliocene.

*For the number of wells the study by Intecsa-Inarsa SA (Estudio Específico de Afecciones sobre la Red Natura 2000 de la autorización de extracción de aguas subterráneas en la zona regable del Campo de Cartagena) was used, 253 in total. However, other sources state that there might be up to 1,600 wells and boreholes in the area.


Alteration

Groundwater in Spain is theoretically protected since the 1985 Water Law was passed, classifying such a resource as public property for the first time. However, in the Segura basin the reality is that more groundwater is exploited than nature can replenish, a fact that is known for decades. According to the definition given by Pulido (2001), we can say that overexploitation is produced when the quantity of water extracted from an aquifer is much greater (more than double) than its pluriannual recharge and this produces negative impacts in the physical and biotic environments; all this referring to a sufficiently long period (25 years 10 for South-Eastern Spain), with the aim of being able to distinguish it from a period of drought (4 to 5 years), in such a way that it is practically impossible to re-establish the original state of equilibrium. Its essential differentiating characteristic is a continuous fall in piezometric level (Rodriguez-Estrella, 2004).

The amount of water that is pumped out in the area is a question that can not be answered with certainty, even the CHS is not in a position of answering it. There is currently no quantification of the direct meter numbers and not a digitization of all the current rights. The CHS currently recognizes it in incapable of managing what it does not know, claiming that vast majority of irrigable land rights applied before 2002, therefore, there is a lack of information.

Years of drought led the CHS to authorize the extraction of brackish water, its desalination, and use for irrigation in 1994. The Board decided to issue temporary authorizations stating that the titles should not exceed a period of five years. However, the CHS neither renewed those nor issued new ones, and inevitably, illegal actions took over for years. According to one of the water commissioners, there might be up to 900 desalination plants in Campo de Cartagena. In 2009 there was an attempt to regularize these infrastructures and CHS hired the informatics company SETECO to create an inventory of all desalination plants and wells. Years after the inventory has not been made public nor did the legalization happen because of the pressure they received from the irrigators.

In the farms owned by G’S group, a British irrigation multinational, two desalination plants were found that expelled brine with nitrates into the brine pipeline and from there to the Albujón creek, with an estimated total discharge to the Mar Menor equivalent to 316 Olympic swimming pools. The discharge from INAGRUP S.L., 64 swimming pools, City Oro, 555 swimming pools. Vanda Agropecuaria, 246 swimming pools. Most of those constructions had a high degree of sophistication in their concealment, from vehicle-installed desalination plants to large underground installations hidden by mobile ramps, to a plant that was powered by the battery of a buried tractor to hide any hints that external electrical cables could provide.


Limit

Residents in South-Eastern Spain faced a terrible catastrophe during the September of 2019. What is known as gota fría (cold front) resulted in the loss of eight people and about eight hundred people rescued from their flooded houses or vehicles. Crops were lost, streets turned into canals, waterfalls were coming out of houses, people clinging to trees to not be dragged by the force of the water.

Gota fría is the name given to a meteorological phenomenon that can cause severe flooding, manifesting particularly in the South-East of the country along the Mediterranean sea and usually occurs during September or October. It is a particularly violent storm in which huge columns of clouds rise to an altitude of up to ten kilometers before discharging their water in torrential downpours.

The warmer the water in the Mediterranean is the more likely it is for such a storm to happen. For it to unfold, unstable air is required at low altitudes in combination to cold masses in the troposphere at altitudes of 5 to 10 kilometers. Due to the warmth of the sea, a large quantity of warm vapor is produced, and when that happens, it comes in contact with low-pressure areas or cold fronts, and the instability in the atmosphere increases the higher it goes. The vapor then rises, carried by this upward airstream, and condenses when it hits the cold air, forming a cloud.

A gota fría is usually localized, affecting a small area while adjacent towns might not experience a single drop of rain. The damage caused by these rainfalls is not limited precisely to the area where it rains, and that is because of the nature of the landscape. The mountains in this region are steep and rocky rather than covered in soil, resulting in almost all of the water transferring onto lower ground instead of being absorbed by the soil.

As water runs off the fields of Campo de Cartagena it carries with it large quantities of nitrate and phosphate contaminated soil, while the arrival of enormous amounts of freshwater into the lagoon decreases the salinity of the water. After the 2019 storm, an “anoxic” water layer was formed (lacking oxygen), resulting in tons of dead fish washing up on the shore of the Mar Menor.

Such phenomena underline the urgency to undertake measures that would protect the natural resources, tackling problems at their source, which is the unsustainable farming practices in the region and the overdevelopment of towns along the coast that have altered the landscape.

Sources:

Katarina Inglezaki. Agroecologies for the Stateless. MSc. Urbanism Thesis, Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment, TU Delft. Transitional Territories Studio 2021-2022.


Monserratt Cortes Macias

Three drawing sequence:
Composition - Alteration - Limits of 'Topos'

Composition

The region’s topography presents elevations generally below 50m a.s.l. The highest area lies in the center of the peninsula and from there elevation decreases eastward and westward by abrupt steps. In the southern part of the Yucatan state are the hills of Ticul and Sayil, with altitudes of up to 250m a.s.l. (Bautista et al., 2011). The subsoil of the Yucatan Peninsula is formed by limestone rock of different porosities and an average thickness of 150m. In karstic aquifers such as this, there is high hydraulic conductivity as a result of the permeability of the rock, its fracturing, and high rainfall in the region. Therefore, the cases of saline intrusion observed in the aquifer are the result of excessive extractions of fresh water that cause an ascent of underlying salt water. As a result, there are areas in the region suffering from chemical erosion on the soil, putting even more at risk the threatened ecosystems and land cover in these areas.

Alteration

Saltwater intrusion is a major hazard to coastal communities as it causes degradation of fresh water resources. The impact of rising sea level on the saltwater intrusion into coastal aquifers has been studied for decades and human activities are known to influence groundwater availability indirectly by affecting precipitation patterns and directly by extracting groundwater and reducing recharge. According to researchers (Deng et al., 2017), the groundwater recharge in the Peninsula will decrease to 32.6mm a year if human activities increase by 50% more. Therefore, in this aquifer, the response to human activities is greatly exceeded by natural hydrogeological conditions

Limits

It is important to consider that although the recharge far exceeds the extraction of the aquifer, even so there are problems that continue to increase gradually with respect to the quality of the groundwater. First, we have to consider the level of water contamination as opposed to the water treatment, that will cause an increase in the erosion of thousands of hectares a year, representing more loss of land cover which up to this day has lost 75% of its tropical forest. With the climate change scenario of 1m sea level rise, thousands of square meters of coastline will likely be affected, including urban development, dunes and mangroves and on top of it all, inland saltwater intrusion distance is estimated to be up to 300km.

Sources:

Monserratt Cortes Macias. Future [Arch]Ecologies | Territory, Identity and Heritage Landscape as infrastructure for a new socio-cultural co-production in the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. MSc. Urbanism Thesis, Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment, TU Delft. Transitional Territories Studio 2021-2022.

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Bautista, F., Palacio-Aponte, G., Quintana, P., & Zinck, J. A. (2011). Spatial distribution and development of soils in tropical karst areas from the Peninsula of Yucatan, Mexico. Geomorphology, 135(3–4), 308–321. https://doi.org/10.1016/J.GEOMORPH.2011.02.014


Deng, Y., Young, C., Fu, X., Song, J., & Peng, Z. R. (2017). The integrated impacts of human activities and rising sea level on the saltwater intrusion in the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. Natural Hazards, 85(2),1063–1088. https://doi.org/10.1007/S11069-016-2621-5/FIGURES/12




Patrisia Tziourrou

Three drawing sequence:
Composition - Alteration - Limits of 'Topos'

"Erasure" is the topic chosen to explore the conflicting territory conditions for the "Topos" line of inquiry. The composition map emphasizes the diversity of the landscape that has been erased due to the modern industrialization of the landscape. Furthermore, it uses the settlement system and paths network of 1880 and 2021 to examine the level of this erasure. A significant number of human settlements in conjunction with their connections have disappeared leaving gaps throughout the system. Based on this, the transect indicates the reason and the result of this erasure in a more realistic and representative way. The intensive livestock activity following the displacement of people, but also the looting of constructions by locals in the surrounding villages led to the gradual decomposition of valuable cultural elements. In addition, uncontrolled hunting in the territory of the villages has led to the extinction of wildlife. Finally, the boundary diagram explains the criticality of unbalanced human activity. The capacity of the landscape does not meet the livestock demand as a result of the deletion of the elements of the land, which is crucial for the whole chain of life.

Sources:

Patricia Tziourrou. Between the traces of co-existence. Cyprus 1st October 2060. MSc. Urbanism Thesis, Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment, TU Delft. Transitional Territories Studio 2021-2022.