FIREWORKS – Green systems workshop – Visit to Vigo

Last week our students of the Master of Landscape Architecture went to Galicia with the teacher team of “Green Systems 1”, FIREWORKS, composed by Anna Zahonero, Pepa Morán and Marc Castellnou.
They went to the metropolitan area of Vigo, which was affected by wildland fires during the 16th. of October 2017.

In Vigo students and professors had the opportunity to collaborate with experts of this damaged area, such as Raquel Soares (Urbanist and Landscape Architect) and Juan Picos Martín (Phd. Forestry Engineer, teacher in the University of Vigo).


Galicia is a region in which historically fire control was used as an instrument for forest management and as a vehicle for landscape transformation. In October 2017, the wildness of the simultaneous 93 fires – which happened while the Iberian Peninsula was suffering of one of the largest period of drought – drew this case study into an extreme situation, which made clear that wildfire should be kept in mind in prevention and regional planning.


The theme of disturbance, in this case wildland fires, is considered by the teacher team as a way to study the potential of naturalistic and designed landscape.

The evidence of the force of nature drives people to a vibrant state, which goes from the sadness created by loss, to the new place as a species in the union of the organisms that live the planet.

In this case, we ask ourselves if these (catastrophic) phenomena, that are able to reorganize the natural systems, could be an opportunity to discover and recognize a landscape. It could generate the reflection about its identity, its dynamic, its environmental resources, about the periods that create landscape and all the things that live in it, and about the technician that recover it…


How can we afford as landscape architects the action on a damaged territory? Is it really damaged? The change that has to be produced for the recovering has to be forced by man?

The interpretation of the territory, through a close study, gives us the guidelines to design it. Can human creativity generate alternatives that can give support to the recovering system? Can the regional planning and can landscape projects be means to achieve the synthesis of actions that should be done to prepare the territory to disturbance?


Eucalyptus burned area.

Quercus Robur burned area.

The students went during Saturday 13th. of January to visit part of the area damaged by wildfire, where, thanks to the knowledge of technician, they could understand the re-sprouting capacity of the species like Quercus Robur comun and Eucalyptus globulus, and the germination capacity of the species like Pinus Pinea.

They saw in situ the nowadays state of the ground vegetation and the direction that the wildfire took, that was given for the first time by south-wind and hurricanes, droughts and high temperature.


Wildfire as disturbance in the landscape is a theme that makes clear the need of a methodology and perspective change, in relationship with its perceptions. The dynamic and change-driving character of wildfire continues going out of human control – even more because of climate change – giving the idea it can only be considered as a risk.

The past events in relationship with wildfire in our region drive us to reflect about the project and the landscape management in our forestry, agroforestry and suburbs systems, even more in relationship with defined disturbance, such as in this case wildfires, that can be destructive. They can be drivers of ecological and social problems that the conventional means – municipality and association – are not often able to solve.

The multiple factors that compose a landscape is a complex issue, they underline the need and the uncertainty of natural process and its dynamics. Which is the limit of our capacity to control this social, cultural and ecological dynamic? How can we recognize the inner creativity of these natural processes and work with them? We cannot look at these issues thinking it is only an ecological problem: it is a problem regarding all the complexity of a landscape.

Nowadays, prevention is just a public unsustainable public cost, and it is not even really working well. The recognition of multiple values of rural areas (agricultural and forestry areas) such as the connection of the inhabitants with the landscape is the best guarantee of wildfire prevention.

Apart from giving the means to recognize, represent and understand wildfires as a disturbance in the landscape, this course will try to give the answer with a design project of a specific reality, affected by divers agent of the territory, their relationship in between each other. This course will give support and material in order to permit the students a way to give a prepositive and specific reflection about disturbances.