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Deep Landscape

We know very little about what is under our feet. We are used to the sight of manhole covers punctuating the streets around us, and we know that they provide access to the subterranean water system. But where does that system start and end, and how is the manmade, reworked ground made up? Humans have a history of adapting well to notions of an expanding world, but what about the closest realm in distance and time: the ground on which we stand and within which our fresh water is contained?

This thesis argues in favour of urbanism not only incorporating landscape but also actively incorporating the other, unseen half of the landscape: the underground. It explores how we could get closer to perceiving the depth of the landscape setting we inhabit. This is increasingly important in a time when human actions dominate the geological ground conditions.

The design case of daylighting of a piped underground water system to make it an open, landscape-integrated surface system reveals a need to design both visible- and invisible underground landscapes together. This exegesis thus expands on my claim that the landscape has a composed depth. The design case has been used to test this assumption and provided various findings, reflected on a posteriori in the exegesis to determine their implications for the landscape- and urbanism disciplines. This has further resulted in the coining of the ‘deep landscape’ as a term, a concept, and a strategy for design.

This thesis is positioned between the fields of landscape architecture and urbanism, and it offers insights into water and urban ground conditions in one conference paper and two published articles. It uses the term ‘deep landscape’ as a reminder of the inseparable context beneath our feet. The presence of water and the ongoing processes below grade, as well as the subterranean landscape modified by humans and its installations, the reworked ground, must inform and become part of landscape architecture and urbanism.

Sjödahl, E.(2024). Deep Landscape. Oslo: The Oslo School of Architecture and Design. Available: https://hdl.handle.net/11250/3127964