The Boston Society of Landscape Architects announced the 2021 BSLA Award winners at a live, virtual event on Monday, June 28. Congratulations to Agency’s Estello Raganit and his partner Joan Chen on winning a Student Merit Award for S L O W L A N D S: Making the Inter-Loughs Wilds based in the Northwest City Region, Ireland & Northern Ireland.
“The jury appreciates the ambitiousness of taking on this polarizing topic, and doing so at a variety of scales–from global to national to microscopic. The jury was very impressed with the graphics, each of which feels like a work of art, and they were intrigued to see something that’s not a site intervention–rather more of a thought intervention.”
Congratulations again to Estello + Joan!
In March 2019, Brexit and its impact on the Ireland–UK land border appeared to be the largest threat to the stability of the region. Inspired by Ireland and Northern Ireland’s rich folkloric traditions, this project examines the power of landscape architecture as a narrative device to proffer a look into a deep future of cross-border collaboration between Ireland and Northern Ireland.
“S L O W L A N D S” posits that the long-term effects of climate change will supersede the implications of geopolitical demarcations and divisions. Within this context, the project proposes a rewilded territory, an embrace of slowness, for the Irish Northwest that encapsulates the borderlands between Ireland and Northern Ireland. This landscape emerges as a result of the significant reduction of grazing and the anticipated flooding of low-lying lands between Lough Foyle and Lough Swilly. This narrative considers how we can take advantage of flood risk to initiate an ambitious rewilding scheme, while remaining sensitive to landscapes of deep cultural connection. “S L O W L A N D S” is narrated from 2200 via a series of vignettes that reflect actions taken during the two centuries prior; Brexits serve as a catalyst of landscape change for the border landscape as we ask: What is the role of mythmaking in illuminating current realities and distant futures for those living in the borderlands?
“S L O W L A N D S” functions as a piece of speculative fiction, an elaborate storytelling of a reverse time capsule sent from the year 2200 to be opened 180 years prior. This methodology aids in repositioning the Brexit vote not as the sole instigator for a state-organized call for cooperation, but as one event in a constellation of decisions made to realize a set of collaborative goals that transcend (socio-)political borders.