Forests turned into words and words turned into forests

Lexical interpretations on shapes and caring

Lorenza Gasparella

Scholarships for landscape studies – second call, 2016/2017

Subject area Nature e gardens

tutor: Luigi Latini (chairman of the Scientific Committee) and Simonetta Zanon (research coordination Landscape projects)

Looking back at the thirty years of activity of Fondazione Benetton Studi Ricerche, shows how the forest is a recurring theme that is more or less conspicuous but essentially constant in the various initiatives it has promoted.
Undoubtedly the forest is an imaginary construction, nevertheless it belongs to a place and it is a place in its own right, if we view a place as «that historical, natural and anthropological body, spatially commensurable, nameable, knowable, manageable», according to Domenico Luciani’s definition. However, as stated by Robert Kaplan and David Norton, albeit in a wholly different setting from the disciplines that deal with the care for places, «if you can’t measure it you can’t manage it, but you can’t measure it if you can’t describe it».

The research dealt with the analysis and identification of words that refer to the forest, hence used to describe it, drawing from the vocabularies of a variety of disciplines. The operation was not merely a translation of terms, but rather an interpretation that literally implies making known and consequently spreading their use and meaning beyond the narrow scholarly confines.

In conclusion, this collection of words, obtained from systematic referencing of the Foundation’s archived materials connected to the International Carlo Scarpa Garden Prizes and other landscape study initiatives, expresses the many forms the forest may take on in order to become a place, related to specific care actions. (L.G.)


Lorenza Gasparella
Landscape Architect. He got his Architecture degree at the IUAV University of Venice with a thesis on the perception and representation of desert landscapes and his inter-university PhD in Design and Management of the Environment and Landscape at La Sapienza University of Rome, cooperating with the Department for Innovation in biologic, agri-food and forestry systems of the Tuscia University of Viterbo on issues to do with the wooded areas of historical gardens.
His current research interests concern Mutation et mouvements: quelle inscription dans le paysage?