Research in progress

Highway to Wilderness is an ongoing research project developed by Walden Architects, a team of scholars from Politecnico di Milano and Università Iuav di Venezia.

Highway to Wilderness intercepts and collects research, academic and educational work on the relationship between city, infrastructure, and wilderness conducted by the team members at Politecnico di Milano, at the Department of Architecture and Urban Studies, the Architectural Urban Interior Design PhD Program, the School of Architecture Urban Planning Construction Engineering.

Educational design work on Italian highways and infrastructural system was developed at the Final Thesis Studio held by Alessandro Rocca, Andrea Rolando and Pierluigi Salvadeo in AY 2018/19, tutored by Francesca Zanotto, Alessandro Scandiffio and Chiara Lionello; the Final Thesis Studio held in 2019/20 by Alessandro Rocca, Jacopo Leveratto and Andrea Rolando, tutored by Francesca Zanotto, Alessandro Scandiffio, Gino Baldi, Luca Negrini; the Architectural Design Studio held in 2020/21 by Alessandro Rocca and Gianluca Brunetti, tutored by Francesca Zanotto, Monica Manfredi and Luca Negrini.

Alessandro Rocca was the supervisor of several master theses investigating innovative possibilities for the design of service areas along A7 highway in northern Italy:  “Along the margins of A7 highway Genoa-Milan”, by Manuel Benedettini; “Hesitate. Slowness and Solitude in A7 Highway” by Du Jian; “Building a Connective Limit. Inhabiting the Extension” by Beatrice Garampelli and Elizabeth Heidenreich; “Chocolate Boxes on the Highway”, by Lorenzo Turnaturi.

Beatrice Balducci and Chiara Pradel are conducting their PhD research “Keep Safe! The Architectural Quality of Securing Projects” and “Moving Ground. Infrastructure, Construction Sites, Landscape” within the Architectural Urban Interior Design PhD program, with the supervision of Alessandro Rocca, head of the program.

Syllabus #01, a supplement to the magazine “Fuoco Amico”, features contributions by Walden Architects and fellow scholars. Syllabus #01 focuses on highway design, with texts and projects about the past, the present, and the future of highways and service areas. Syllabus presents results, experiences, research made inside formative courses at different levels: bachelor, master, doctorate. The goal is to offer these products, provisional and incomplete as they can be, to the scientific community, enhancing dialogues and exchanges.

Walden Architects gathered in 2019 on the occasion of the collaboration with the Iuav research unit of the Italian research project SYLVA - Rethink the Sylvan: Towards a New Alliance Between Biology and Artificiality, Nature and Society, Wilderness and Humanity (PRIN 2017). SYLVA is a three-year-long research project, intending to study the “Sylvan” as a dispositive (Agamben) that invests the space for relationships between humans, with animals and plants, with the components of the human soul including the "behavioral forest" deriving from the social competition. The “natural” reality is changing: the domesticated one turns into the wild one, urban areas are re-naturalized, the “natural” spaces used grow in response to the consumption of soil. The design response to these changes appears so far without tools. An urgent reflection is needed, identifying conceptual and operational paths to build a new/ancient and lost relationship with the "natural". SYLVA involves scholars from Università degli Studi Roma Tre, Università Iuav di Venezia, Università degli Studi di Padova, Università degli Studi di Genova. The Principal Investigator is professor Claudio Cerreti, Università degli Studi Roma Tre; the scientific director of Università Iuav di Venezia research unit is professor Sara Marini; the scientific director of Università degli Studi di Padova research unit is professor Silvia Piovani; the scientific director of Università degli Studi di Genova research unit is professor Antonella Primi.

The installation Highway to Wilderness at 2021 Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism, to which this website represents the virtual counterpart, is the first exhibition by Walden Architects.