Elisabetta Terragni
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September 2009 -
7000 mq
Fondazione Museo Storico del Trentino


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Two disused highway tunnels in Trento (Italy) have been transformed into an exhibition and event site that remains in use, but two landscape gardens are yet to be created. They address both ends of the tunnels and mediate between a dramatic geographic/geological site and the old town of Trento, as well as between infrastructure and a post-industrial landscape.
While the tunnels no longer cut off a part of town on the western embankment of the Adige River, the large left-over areas, now subtracted from vehicular use, call for re-integration into the landscape and the town. The dilemma is all too familiar: what had originally been severed in the name of efficiency and expediency, now calls for restoration to a balanced and meaningful state. Such a state never existed before and therefore needs to be invented.
On what basis can a landscape be ‘invented’? The tunnels at Trento mark a first major passage through a mountain massive well before travelers reach the Brenner Pass, one of the main alpine transit routes in Europe. In the opposite direction down river, the highway leads to the Mediterranean basin, the favorite destination of holiday makers from the north.
What we are proposing at Trento is a kind of transport via landscape interludes: northward, the disused highway breaks up and rises to a rocky alpine garden, strewn with rocks and native conifers. Shrubbery and wildflowers at the foot of a limestone cliff anticipate the higher elevations; southward, by contrast, a gently sloping parterre blends into the southern sky and offers bosquettes, gravel paths, and flowering beds. In a word, these two areas north and south of the tunnels stand in anticipation of landscapes the traveler has not yet reached. As bookends of the travel route, they buttress the local divide in a narrow stretch of the valley, while linking up with the nearby townscapes and dramatizing the passage through the narrows.