Autumn 2022

Spatial Dynamics of AirViviane Viniarski, Elvira Kinzner, and Michel Zalis

Often related to an invisible force, an ungraspable ethereal matter, air is indeed the biggest ecosystem on the planet. Air and its spatial dynamics, more than mediators of atmospheres, are an ultimate source of life. Its quality is usually measured by the amounts of emissions from carbon dioxide, particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide, and other major greenhouse gases emitted by human-made sources. Moreover, it can also be mitigated by living nature. Therefore, the detriment of air pollution is a social-ecological production of urbanisation processes that celebrate the exhaustion of natural resources. As a symbolic type of such anthropogenic urban planning, the West Lausanne region is designated as a strategic area for new developments to accommodate forecasted population growth in Canton Vaud. This multidisciplinary design approach in West Lausanne envisions an inhabitable place in global warming conditions. Sewing different extents of natural-based solutions between the spatial structure – from dense forests, open parks, landfills and rich urban vegetation to an intense green build fabric – will engender the mitigation of heat stress, reduce noise pollution and provide new habitats a fresh, pleasant, and protected track from Renens, Bussigny, Crissier to Ecublens till Lake Leman.
Treating air as a spatial subject means imagining the territory as a patchwork of atmospheres. The design strategies envision an environment where the coexistence of built structures and natural resources could improve the quality of an extended urban life. It is an invitation to transition to better human and non-human well-being by promoting collective space as the ultimate source of high air quality.

Photographs and images by author unless otherwise indicated.