Anna Positano



Arles. Fallowscapes


Situated on a promontory along the left bank of the lower Rhone River, just before it meets the Mediterranean Sea, Arles oversees expansive plains that were once considered uncultivable wastelands. With its origins as a prosperous Roman outpost predominantly built from locally quarried limestone, the city still maintains its original layout. However, Arles faces persistently high unemployment rates, prompting a need to redefine its purpose beyond its esteemed cultural and historical standing. In contrast, modernity has drastically transformed the surrounding landscape. The Camargue Delta separates salt from seawater, while an intricate network of canals distributes freshwater from Alpine rivers, converting the arid Crau plain into a fertile and productive expanse. Within the intersecting realms of waterways, orchards, rice fields, quarries, logistics sites, infrastructures, and drainage channels, a fallowscape exists in an intriguing state of neglect. This photo essay delves into the interactions between systems and landscapes, by exploring different scales, temporalities, materials, and boundaries. It analyses the existing and the potential, in order to face dramatic ecological threats and an enduring social crisis.

Commissioned by Harvard GSD and funded by Luma Foundation.

Published in Fallowscapes: Territorial Reconfiguration Strategies for Arles, a Studio Report edited by Anita Berrizbeitia, Marc Armengaud, and Matthias Armengaud. Harvard GSD, 2021.