The project is a strategy for the future of the Latrobe valley which imagines an active networked ecology of infrastructural, agricultural and socio-cultural interventions. The Latrobe Valley region has a long history of active occupation and cultivation. Following white settlement the landscape has been progressively altered to facilitate the production of agricultural resources, and later, the industrial scale mining of coal and the associated infrastructural development associated with power generation.
As the world moves towards a carbon economy, the large scale mining and coal fired power operations of the region are rapidly becoming financial unviable and subsequently obsolete. In response to this the prevailing approach is to withdraw from these sites and allow them to return to what is generally perceived as a natural state. However, to do so in the Latrobe Valley would fundamentally disregard a crucial part of its history as a constructed environment.
The project seeks to develop the Latrobe Valley as an artificially grown, synthesized terrain that departs from the post-industrial context of the present day and examines ways in which the future evolution of the region can be driven by sustainable development. A significant portion of the value of the national electrical system is comprised on the high-voltage transmission network, which is significantly concentrated on or around the competition site. The Cultured Landscape recognises this significant infrastructure investment as an opportunity to tap and test the next generation of low carbon or carbon neutral generation technologies.
Drawing on an analysis of the existing agglomeration of towns, roads, infrastructure, and social and cultural sites, the project is configured around a generative network that will act as a growth structure for the future development of the region. In this network, areas of confluence will become key nodes points around which a series of speculative architectures and landscapes are proposed.
The project proposes to retain and re-use the significant industrial infrastructure as a visible presence within the landscape, an industrial archaeology celebrating the social history of the site. This strategy facilitates the adaptation of the pre-existing marginalised sites in the study area, and the opportunistic insertion of new agricultural, infrastructural and cultural programs. The proposed programs are organised as a matrix of new uses that are connected symbiotically to the existing network as complimentary couplings.
This ecology of new developments is comprised of programs that seek to re-think, re-generate, re-brand, re-work and re-activate the Latrobe valley as an exemplar of sustainable growth. These can be broken down into three key categories; Infrastructure – sustainable power generation centres including geo-thermal and solar farming; Agriculture – production of raw materials for bio-fuel including algae farms and sustainable farming practice with an emphasis on local produce; Culture – eco-tourism and leisure sites including geothermal hot springs, water sports and camping areas, as well as new educational facilities, museums and campus facilities that reference the proposed infrastructural and agricultural agenda of the region.
These proposed facilities form a network of interventions that are scattered through the broader Latrobe valley.
Laura Martires, Kate Holbrook, John Doyle, Ben Milbourne, Edmund Carter
Completed Concept Design
Latrobe Valley Region, Australia
Latrobe City Council