BEYOND TERROIR, productive landscapes

January 8, 2017

beyond_terroirUniversity: Aho, The Oslo school of Architecture & Design, Norway
Level: Master
Program: Landscape Architecture & Urbanism

Course: behind the hill, into the wild
Teachers: Luis CallejasMattias Fredrik Josefsson , Li Bin

Location: Sierra Nevada Santa Marta, Colombia
Duration: 1 semester
pilotproject: Kjell Hafnor, Linn Runeson, Yan Zoe, Zhiyuan Liu
blog Posts: Aho Works , landscape photography as landscape taxonomy , north / south visual atlas

Beyond Terroir
Coffee culture exists in two parallel worlds. In the northern hemisphere it is enjoyed and celebrated as a means of warmth, conversation, and is embedded in to the Scandinavian daily routine. While in the southern hemisphere, it is culturally important as a source of economic means, where it is planted, grown, and exported throughout the world. How can these two parallels intersect one another and build a common ground in the tropics?

Can a system that is closely linked to the climatic and environmental conditions be designed that can re-qualify the coffee farm as a place for education,tourism and economy and what techniques can be used to formulate a site based on this logic? How can we use the logics such as terrain, climate, and altitude that are existing in the Colombian productive landscape?

Through strategic mapping two sites in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Colombia, were chosen to explore how bio-physical processes and conditions can be used to formulate landscape driven architectural techniques for the creation of organic coffee production.




sierra base map 20161116
“Golden Ring”
The Sierra-Neveda Santa Marta mountain range will face pressure in the near future due to the Colombian Governments recent peace deal with the FARCO. This offers an opportunity to question how the mountain and its environmental qualities will be conserved? The strategy has 3 over arching logics: conserve, produce, and diversify.

Coffee is best produced in between the altitudinal range of 1200-1800 msl using this logic a productive ring or “coffee belt” is proposed. This poses an opportunity to use a productive landscape not only for economic means but also as a protective infrastructure upon the hillside. Current methods of production involve the removal of vast amounts of forest, which results in a loss of bio-diversity, and other side effects such as erosion. Integrating coffee production through agro-forestry, meaning that it is grown as part of the forests understory, has been proposed in order to challenge these methods. Tree cover on mountainous landscapes act as a slope stabilizing mechanisms, that minimizes soil erosion, and provides habitat that can mimic ecological characteristics of natural habitats.



sitemodels_terrainSite 1 (left) and Site 2 (right)
The two sites were not only chosen depending on their altitude but were also tactically placed depending on the logic of water. The sites were also chosen to test different techniques according to micro-topography, for instance site 1 has a consistent slope and site 2 has a fluid (rolling) terrain.


The wet coffee-process today in Colombia (Beneficio humedo) is planned and built upon no natural connection with the flows for workers or the surrounding landscape. What if the coffee – production could be designed for people with the landscape as the driving factor? A creative method was used to explore the natural systems in the landscape to develop different concepts that led us into the design phase.


site2_plan1.500_zoe 20161213




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