Shallow Waters

Could Venice floods become the future of Amsterdam or would Markermeer, sea turned into a sweet lake, become the future of the Venetian lagoon?  ‘Shallow Waters’ explores the hybrid geographies of two urban deltas - Amsterdam’s Markermeer-Ijsselmeer and Venice’s lagoon - and the role of spatial planning and morethan-human biodynamics within those territories. Through processes of digging, colonizing, cleansing, flooding, hosting, feeding and flowing, humans negotiate with more-than-humans, including the shallow water itself and together constitute a dynamic social metabolism. Social metabolism pressured by the prospects of rising waters and emerging bio-immunity policies could benefit from reframing notions of ecology from the technological issue towards an inclusive and dependent system where humans play a participatory role.   Part of the Public Parallel Programme of the Dutch Pavilion during the 17th International Architecture Exhibition of La Bienalle di Venezia  

Venetian and Dutch shallows, with dyke and 'bricola' as spatial planning elements and home to community of species. Dutch microspecies photography by Wim van Egmond

The marshy waters narrative unfolds around two spatial planning protagonists: the Dutch
basalt-block dyke and the Venetian wooden ‘bricola’ pole. One protagonist holds the
water while the other signals underwater channel boundaries and delimits safe sailing corridors.
Next to their infrastructural and juridical roles, these protagonists are also a home to an entire ‘community of interacting species’. Through processes of digging, colonizing, cleansing, flooding, hosting, feeding and flowing, humans negotiate with more-than-humans, including the shallow water itself and together constitute a dynamic social metabolism.
Social metabolism pressured by the prospects of rising waters and emerging bio-immunity
policies could benefit from reframing notions of ecology from the technological issue towards an inclusive and dependent system where humans play a participatory role.

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VE lagoon XL, barene (hidden islands)

VE lagoon X

VE 'bricola' wooden pole

'Bricola' poles indicating (among others) safe sailing corridors

This research project sits at the intersection of environmental science, art and the humanities,
and specifically combines the collaborative efforts of architects and benthic aquatic biologists. Challenging a prevailing perception that water is a blank ‘blue’ space, it reminds us of water’s multiple populations, agency and essential role in the cohabitation and immunity of this planet.
The project asks: how can we (humans and more than humans) live together in shallow waters? What are the muddy spatial practices native to this environment? And what role
will multispecies’ knowledge and empathy play in such practices? Voices from the Dutch and Venetian urban deltas interpreted as text-image narratives will be shared with the public in a magazine and online. Aiming to inspire conversations across disciplinary borders, the project questions the accepted hegemony of human dominance over other
species. Seeking to visualize and emphasize the presence of shallow water micro-species
both in spatial practices and in caring for our planetary metabolism, ‘Shallow Waters’ is a
call for reflection and humbleness.

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Venetian and Dutch shallows, with dyke and 'bricola' as spatial planning elements and home to community of species. Dutch microspecies photography by Wim van Egmond

‘Shallow Waters’ is developed with a multidisciplinary team, including contributions by:
Bureau LADA , Dr. Harm van de Geest from Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED) at Amsterdam University,
benitc biologist Camilla Bertollini,
Dr. Davide Tagliapietra, Marco Sigiovini, Irene Guarneri from CNR-ISMAR, Institute of Marine Sciences Venice
Alice Smits and Carolyn F. Strauss
Dr. Laura Onofri
microphotographer Wim van Egmond
Haller Brun is responsible for the graphic design of the magazine

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'Diemerzeedijk' oldest sea dyke in the Netherlands. After closing the sea with 'Afsluitdijk' in 1931 this is sweet water dyke