Catherine Maumi a été invitée à donner la conférence inaugurale du colloque international MODSCAPES, Modernism, Modernisation and the Rural Landscape qui s’est tenu à Tartu (Estonie) du 11 au 13 juin 2018.
La conférence s’intitulait « Ruralism as opposed to Urbanism; Regional Planning as Human Ecology. When modernity was also an invitation to be inhabitants of the Earth ».
At the beginning of the 20th century, the United States do not reflect anymore the ideal of being the “Garden of the World”, one which had fostered the imagination of its inhabitants since the end of the 18th century, and had built a specific landscape – the pastoralor middle landscape – during the 19th. The country has now established itself as a major industrial and economic force, and New York symbolizes this new national power. However, this evolution wasn’t without serious consequences on the living conditions within the urban and rural realms, where a large part of the population was getting poorer. It had also caused dramatic transformations of the natural landscape and even, more important, large-scale ecological disasters.
These significant changes invited some professionals and intellectuals (economists, architects, landscape architects, urban planners, foresters, etc.) to work on new economic, political and spatial proposals in order to avoid all kind of speculation – on the land, money and on human workforce – and to imagine new ways of life on Earth more respectful of its resources, natural ecosystems, but also of the living world, humans being part of it.
The first proposal we will focused on is the idea of geotechnics, or Regional planning, as defined by Benton MacKaye, and as illustrated by his project for the Appalachian Trail, first presented in 1921. According to MacKaye, “Regional planning is ecology. It is human ecology ; its concern is the relation of the human organism to its environment”.
The second project is the one proposed by Frank Lloyd Wright with Broadacre City, illustrated by the model shown in 1935; it was built with the purpose of explaining to the general public a new, cooperative and democratic way of life on Earth. It is impossible to dissociate anymore the rural realm from the urban one in Broadacre City, where “it is true that landscape becomes architecture just as architecture becomes a kind of landscape. But both are integral with the ground and are an orchestration of form according to nature”.
Both visions are inviting us to think about the problems we have to face now, on the 21st Century, on any place of the Earth.