Perspectives from beneath the pavement

The crack in the pavement becomes the site of alternative urban practices. From here, we seek to shift away from an anthropocentric urbanism and towards a new discourse, where spontaneous growth can reveal the processes of urbanism and manifest in a tolerated co-production of space.

Nature, or a perversion of, has been re-introduced

to the city in the form of landscape design. The tree in urban planning is rendered as an element and object, and their highly-regulated infrastructures delineate clearly the extent of its space. Within this intolerant model of bureaucratic design, nature in the residual form of spontaneous vegetation is neutralized.

As a last resistance against the smooth city, the spontaneous growth of disturbance-adapted species of trees exposes a site of trauma. An alternative design of care begins from a place of tolerance, within the fabric of urban ecologies. The crack in the pavement, in turn, reveals the earth as infrastructure – sous les pavés, la terre! – latent beneath the trauma of the city.

How can the city be understood as a site of trauma?

How can design negotiate a co-existence between human and non-human entities?

How can the tolerance of spontaneous trees manifest an urbanism of care?


The project on spontaneous urban trees was developed in context of the AA nanotourism Visiting School in association with the Vienna Design Week 2020. The project members are Emma Kaufmann LaDuc, Lauro Nächt, and Aurora Zordan.

Emma Kaufmann LaDuc, born in the United States, is currently completing her studies in architecture at the Technical University of Vienna, parallel to courses in site-specific art at the University of Applied Arts, Vienna. In the past year, she has been published in The Human Needs, as well as exhibited at the Bangkok Design Week, Vienna Design Week in association with the AA Visiting School and Notgalerie, Vienna.

Lauro Nächt, born in Austria, studies architecture at the Technical University of Vienna and works at the Institute of Architecture and Design, Department for Architectural Typology and Design. He has recently exhibited at the Vienna Design Week in association with the AA Visiting School, as well as the Notgalerie, Vienna and Grad Castle, Goričko.

recommended readings or other media

Projective Ecologies, Chris Reed & Nina-Marie Lister

“This Is Not My Beautiful Biosphere”, Timothy Morton

Big Yellow Taxi, Joni Mitchell