Andrew Chard Y5
Lost Landscapes: Reconfiguring the Rhône. By the end of this century the majority of Switzerland's glaciers are expected to have melted away, damaging hydrological systems throughout the Alps. With Switzerland's glacial meltwater sustaining many of Europe's rivers during the drier summer months, future artificial systems will be needed to maintain this delayed release of water when the glaciers have disappeared.
Lost Landscapes creates a potential framework for glaciated regions throughout Switzerland by designing a new hydrological system for the Rhône valley. With the Rhône glacier being the true source of the Rhône river connecting Switzerland and France, its retreat will have a particularly large impact on the future summer shortfall of water, which will affect transport and farming.
By intermittently constructing a series of passive dams the project aims to maintain the existing ecology as the glacier retreats up the valley over the next 100 years, providing a delayed release of water. The implementation of these dams will be sustained alongside the steady growth of Alpine farming communities expanding into new areas of pasture that will become available due to global warming. These new communities will help to seasonally construct the dams within their alpine transhumance cycles; creating a symbiotic relationship between the dams and the communities that surround them.
The pastures and housing deployed throughout the valley is supported by a new network of irrigation channels, creating a water resilient farming community, immune to the increasing rate of droughts affecting much of Europe. These elements will be quarried into the granite landscapes themselves, once carved by the retreating glacier, allowing the valley to be reconfigured not only to maintain the hydrological systems of the valley but also to allow people to explore, understand and live within it.