Hortus Mytilus

fabulism: A garden can grow from plastic net wastes. The project is part of the “Public Scape Taranto” event organized by Green Routes. The idea is to transform the space of the renovated ancient Cloister of Sant’ Antonio Monastery, through an artistic installation that claims a new environmental awareness. The sea and the landscape of the Taranto coast are common assets to be safeguarded, and only through more concrete actions can it be protected. Tradition and innovation come together through the reinterpretation and reuse of the typical plastic nets, called “reste”, used in the mussels breeding.

The development of mussel culture techniques is difficult to date, as they refer to ancient local traditions. The historic modular system, consisting of square chamber cores composed of poles and ropes, delimited the system grid. Materials and complex techniques, developed over time, are a synthesis of local culture and customs, which have transformed the economic and social landscape of Taranto. Today instead of plant and wood fibers, mainly nylon and galvanized iron are used. Technical and management innovation has evolved, ensuring larger production, but on the other hand, the introduction of artificial materials, in addition to the lack of management environmental respect has led to serious consequences for the marine ecosystem. The plastic nets are essential for the mussels breeding, but they are one of the most polluting waste along the Apulian coasts. Once the nets are harvesting unusable, they are often thrown into the sea by the fisherman, falling down in the deep. This process sadly became a common practice and now a huge and continuos plastic carpet stifle the seabed, transforming it into an arid place where the sea fauna creates its own habitat. But not only that, fishes and birds often die suffocated, ingesting the plastics as food mistakenly.

Hortus Mytilus cries out this problem, starting from a waste material  it becomes an artistic work. It attracts attention and sensitizes the viewer, while maintaining a poetic and light attitude. A regular grid of columns punctuates and divides the cloister space. Cylindrical metal skeletons of 3 m high and 35 cm width hang from cables stretched between the cloister arcades. To these structures are opportunely fixed the plastic nets, previously clean, joined and divided by color. The sequence of these light tubes recalls the technique of the “zoche”, the mussel farms, and floats in the air, creating a continuous play of transparencies and overlaps.  The medieval architectonical structure is emphasized from the colorful lightness of the plastics that create a suggestive liaison with the massive columns of the Cloister. Hortus Mytilus is an artificial garden that invites the visitors to cross it, observe it and play with it. A new symbolic public space opened for the city of Taranto. The artistic work is the results of a collaborative process with the local association Ammostro, a group of six artisans that brought a precious support and their knowledge of the city. Indeed the project is not just an installation but is even an action for and with the community.  The artificial garden was also realized with the direct collaboration of the citizens: through the organization of an open workshop and the action of the voluntary association Plasticaqquà, it was possible to collect and clean the plastic nets, consequently used for the construction of the installation.

Short office name: fabulism

Website: www.fabulismoffice.com

Role of your office in the project: winner of the international competition “Public Scape Taranto “

Other designers involved in the design of landscape: Ammostro

Project location: Chiostro di Sant’Antonio, Taranto, Italy

Design year: 2018

Year Built: 2018


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