Nature and the City

Massimo Venturi Ferriolo

Preliminary remarks

Ideas on the landscape Is the city still a place? The question is powerful, even if it seems superfluous as the answer is still affirmative if we give the term “place” the broad interpretation given by the Treccani vocabulary of “a part of space, ideally or materially circumscribed”. Under those circumstances, then yes, the city is still a place. However, if we restrict the word to its original meaning of ethos as a space of the totality of existence in its immanent spirit where each inhabitant played his/her part, or his/her nomos, the city is no longer a place because it has been deemed no longer sacred. It was founded on sacred grounds, and with the sacred understanding in the “precisely this” which experienced reality of its compositional, demonic elements, which characterised the presence of the divine in the world, while it has moved away into the “opposite” of transcendence, relegating it to reserved spaces. Spaces which are gradually being forgotten in current plans. Only the so-called non-sacred nature which has become the trappings of a genuine absence has been retained. Plants, and emblems of the divine, have become the mirror of a nature absent from our eyes with a pure appearance in a city without spirit or soul.

The city was born in Greece as part of our cultural tradition. Man is a natural builder of associated human life, of poleis, the essence of living in common to solve the needs as Plato teaches. Philosophy should be added, as it was born with the city, discusses it and finds fertile ground here for dialectics, the foundation of the precise freedom that constitutes it. It was born as a response to the issues of that era. It pertains to the project of the human world and is in its own correct thought of the landscape: a response to the problems of man, of the places in which he/she lives and is marked by his/her body with the senses. This is the practical answer – in its original sense – to the problems of the city which today have lost genuine visibility and liveability of everything, of nature and of spirit.

Nuraghe tower Sardegna


The classic depiction

Life is an incessant activity: man builds things, lives and thinks. He/she shapes and characterises the ethos, while the home is increasingly perfected by freedom towards nature: he/she builds a world, a habitus, a home. This is how culture is born: the world, the historical work of the demiurge welcomed by the landscape, which in turn forms the project of the human world. The city then springs up as the result of a specific activity aimed at building homes by infusing conscious quality into its construction with silent buildings that speak or sing, says Paul Valèry’s Eupalino. The activity of construction produces a perpetual construction site where art creates a visible world as an exclusive meaning, with works and symbols.

Plato’s Timaeus claims that the city is corruptible, and is subject to degeneration. Time transforms and devours it with the help of the hand of man, who can work towards good or evil according to the design choices made from time to time. The gaze on the city is crucial to understanding it: it captures the transformation, and follows the narrative. It identifies the relationship between the elements that form the unitary image of a place made up of the relationships that pervade it. It is a distinct one in itself (Hölderlin), a landscape.

A landscape (we do not distinguish the city from the landscape) is the work of an entire community, a work of art in continuous motion just like the spirit of man that characterises it. This includes man’s story. Observing a city means acknowledging its tradition, its features, and its conformation. The gaze can travel alongside a unitary reading of the events where the specific individual elements participate as one universe: the city as binding of the individual heterogeneous components.

A landscape thought observes the city. He/she travels through it encountering its real and imaginary elements, starting from the most elementary, cultural ones, palaces, monuments and squares; “natural”, gardens and parks. They are all heterogeneous elements of a plot of multiple interweavings. It is a phenomenon of things being linked together, as defined by the agreement of each part that composes a homogeneous picture, from things to states of mind, forming a unique image with multiple elements.[1]

Individual elements bear relevance due the fact that they belong to a specific totality where a relationship between the individual and the universe is functional. The simple elements, in their individuality with their own concrete existence, portray a meaning if inserted into a totality, where they constitute a community with the other parts in an overall, universal existence: the landscape. An element does not only have a relationship with another, but with everyone both individually and collectively: an intertwining.

A landscape thought can promote the level of understanding of the identity of places by investigating how a city has become what it is with its characteristics that make it unique, an unrepeatable model in terms of time and space. Thought literally enters cities and opens interesting perspectives when it asks what happens in that particular city that is the object of the gaze. Research therefore begins with the study of local relationships between man and the environment, revealing the constellation of elements that have man as the central subject: ethical research.

We have not yet learned to live according to Heidegger; therefore we exist by taking care of our places to stay. Care is paramount. Marc Augé argues that we need to re-learn how we think about space. The world of super modernity is not exactly commensurate with the one we believe we are living in; in fact, we live in a world that we have not yet learned to observe.[2] The “green space” has no history; “space” is an abstract term.[3]


Polis/City as a natural phenomenon

Aristotle docet: the metropolis, to which we refer when we are discussing the city where we born to live, exists with a view to wellbeing, therefore every metropolis forms a natural phenomenon as the first communities… it is clear that the polis belongs to natural things, and that man is a creature that constructs polis (politikon zoon). As he writes at the outset of his politics. The concept is important and has not been yet ruined by modern nature/culture dichotomy. Aristotle discusses the techniques for obtaining the tools required for life, the economy and chrematistics, one natural, limited, the other unnatural and unlimited. On the one hand we have a natural economy which has the aim of organising subsistence goods in the home to live properly according to nature, guaranteeing the autarky of the polis, and an unnatural technique of accumulating wealth which is harmful to the social balance of the city on the other hand. On the one hand we have the good life, whereas we have conflict and disorder on the other.

The Greeks do not “think of man as being distinct from nature, nor the latter within an economic thought interested in the maximum exploitation of resources but rather one within a horizon of manufacturing and consumption defined by the concept of boundaries”.[4]  This limit has been largely exceeded by neoliberalism. Today we can distinguish humans from non-humans. We have separated man from nature, and more precisely from the rest of nature by creating the nature/culture dichotomy and we are looking for the natural city because we have lost nature[5].


An inventive analysis of the theme of space/the city

  • Guiding characteristic: the green city

  • Understanding what is natural and green

  • Idea: green city, mythical background: the city of Amphion = music – harmony – poetry. An aesthetic experience of nature (without any more opposition).

  • An ethic of care with the vision of the ideal world of a green city. Hence the meaning of green. Why do people not think in terms of a garden city, understanding the latter as a metaphor of relationships for a circle of life that recalls the Aristotelian eu zen and the indigenous South American bien vivir, the true sense of the ethics of care? Green is a colour; a garden is an experienced relational reality, or a metaphor for la dolce vita.[6]

  • Problems/issues: A) history as a guiding concept of the West; B) the future; future communities; ethics for tomorrow. Theme: Connecting the future with the past: telling tales (Geschichte) – narration (Erzälung – Narration).

Atacama, Chile


Five prepositions for a design analysis

The horizon that connects the future with the past is portrayed by the gaze: its knowledge. It has two distinct albeit convergent forms: one addressed to a universal theory; the other aimed at specific elements, aesthesis (sensitivity). We will therefore enter the place (city) and read its obvious and hidden geometries. The first element that catches the eye is the overall picture of the broad and complex phenomenon of the spectacle: the one being distinct in itself. This term taken from Hölderlin’s Hyperion means “a living interconnection endowed with a particular structural constitution, or an interconnection that he can identify in every object, be it a landscape, a river, or anything else”[7].

The theme of living interconnection is today being looked at by contemporary anthropologists, in particular by Tim Ingold with his Correspondences (2021). It is one way to overcome the nature/culture dichotomy where man forms an integral part of the interconnection: everything is connected. We will start from the rise of a physical space above the abyss, described by Jean-Pierre Vernant as the female earth, a matrix and which is receptacle of places where man lives with a specific behaviour of custody and cultivation of the field, the vineyard and taking care of its pasture with the name of Gaia, chora, Isis, namely the space of its own competence: nomos; we can explore even further if this path is valid in its theatrical representation from myths. Taking the theatre back as a place, an inhabited area, a connection of myths; its scenic entrance, accessibility to both space and time; the chorus, with five prepositions included in the story-narration dynamic: a myth, that is, a project of human existence.

Five propositions, therefore, those for a landscape project: 1) visibility – light: the receptacle of everything that is generated; chora, the space: place of Dike, she who sees everything, the theatre; 2) temporality: the divine twins (nature/culture); 3) Temporariness: nomos; 4) accessibility: parodos, the place of passages, access to temporality and temporariness, the path that the choir crosses to enter the orchestra; 5) narration; stasimo, singing on the spot.

These indications should create the conditions for an experience of the gaze which are harmonious with the narrative of a landscape process and which safeguard the unitary image of everything with the arrangement of what is visible. Let’s review these in a conceptual key with their contents.

Visibility concerns the space of the gaze with its real and imaginary depth. It constitutes the premise for what is visible to be arranged properly, and to be attentive to the locations. Its aesthetic function is geared towards four essential factors: the perception of beauty, the culture of taste, the sensation of pleasantness, and a clear quality of life. It is based on the ability of the gaze as the excellence of the landscape architect who knows how to arrange a visible constellation of elements in relation to each other in: a) a unitary framework; b) an image without boundaries; c) a spectacle; d) a visual horizon; e) a heterogeneous set of differences.

Temporality is the art : nature: and which links history in the flow of time. It forms the substratum of the texture of a landscape as it develops. This is where nature, history, tradition, eternity, the flow of the past, the present and the future, the development, the transformation of the territory, the continuity of generations and life portray its universal meaning.

Temporariness is the momentary span of human life, as masterfully expressed by the fragment of Antiphon, where man’s life has the duration of one day with his eyes turned towards the light (DK87B): its duration can be found in its particular, singular meaning, with its possible contemporaneity with the other constitutive eras of partial temporalities, which we have called stories. Temporariness can occupy the space of a history, or part of the temporality where everything flows. For the senses, this is the perception of light and colour, smells, tastes, sounds, sights, textures above all the tactile and visual experience of the body: the daily theatre of individual activity.

Accessibility makes it possible to enter into temporality and temporariness, to grasp a panorama including its contents and get both to know and admire one’s living environment; discovering a quality landscape. It provides access to what happened, to the plots and events that have passed through a place, the discovery of heritage, and access to identity.

Finally, the narrative connects the stories in a definitive form with its meaning as can be read in the contemporary format, from the past to the future. It is the practice itself that perpetuates the landscape process, which allows the conditions of an experience of the gaze to be preserved to enter places and experience emotions; to discover a site and to read it in full and about its unusual twists and turns. The narrative organises the landscape process. It is poetics, creation, artistic making, a language that rediscovers the contents of the imminent, inherent time in a place, while constituting its features. The connection, narration of reality is a tension, which, with the power of the gaze, brings all of the means of artistic expression in a form of unity together; the unity of a world which is possible, of the one distinct symbolic container rich in meanings with their external faces, which are always relative, but never definitive.


Overcoming the nature/cultural dichotomy

NATURE: an abstract term used specifically by those who live in the city. Nature is seen as refuge spaces that have anthropisation that citizens love to frequent.[8] It has an ideal vision of nature in vegetation (forest in the city), hence the combination with the colour green.[9] Nature forms part of our intellectual landscape. Man is no longer at home with the forest as he once was, he no longer inhabits it, his state of being has changed, he has surrounded himself with artefacts created by himself, artefacts such as the vegetal elements which adorn the city and, sometimes, where the buildings bring “nature” into the city, ensuring that there the natural and the artificial cannot be distinguished from one another. The green city is a trap: it can turn into the worst of artifices.

Let us remember the words of Italo Calvino’s Palomar, with his acute observation of the lawn of Mr. Palomar’s home, located in a place where naturally there should not be a lawn, and which is therefore an artificial object composed of grasses, which themselves are natural objects. It has the objective of representing nature by modifying that of the place with one that is not only natural in itself but artificial in relation to its location. To appear nicely, it must be a uniform green expanse, which in reality is unnatural, has no clear boundaries, and we can only see it as a result of “our approximate and gross senses”; “a whole does not exist only because it is made up of distinct elements… Palomar has become distracted, he no longer pulls up  weeds, he no longer thinks about the lawn: he is thinking about the universe. He’s trying to apply everything he thought about the meadow to the universe. The universe as a regular and ordered cosmos or as a chaotic proliferation. The universe may be finite but innumerable, however it remains unstable in its boundaries, which opens other universes within itself. The universe is a set of celestial bodies, nebulae, dust, fields of forces, intersections of fields, sets of sets…” .[10]

The gaze can grasp the universe in terms of its superficiality and depth, tracing an ethical process that surpasses the levels of narration. Mr. Palomar further reflects: “can we push ourselves to look for what is underneath only after having known the surface of objects, … The surface of objects however is inexhaustible.”[11] It is inexhaustible in its very depth.


Cities: the good and evil of joint human existence

Well-being: there is no other organisation that allows such efficiency when it comes to supporting large numbers of people.

Evil: it is the main source of our aggression towards the environment. It occupies from one to 27% of the Earth’s surface, which is small when compared to the total, but produces 75% of carbon dioxide, 75% of waste, and consumes 70% of the planet’s resources. London’s carbon footprint is larger than that of the whole of Great Britain.

This is what we imagine the city to be. We have historically thought of the city as something detached from the rest of nature. The Renaissance paintings of the ideal city represent the architectural concept of the city. Materialisation of the architects’ dream: squares, buildings, a place of buildings. All are positioned in a perspective manner that responds to precise mathematical guidelines. What is striking is that there is not a single blade of grass. This is the place of human reflection. Piero della Francesca. Urbino. The theme of the ideal city, the Platonic concept of the plain of truth, the paradise of ideas. Please See Virgilio Vercelloni, Atlas of the ideal city, a medieval idea from the early 12th century for information regarding this subject: the earthly paradise as a metaphor for the ideal city, the tree at the forefront. Illustration extracted from Liber Floridus by Lambert of Saint-Omer (chart 23). Robert Owen, Utopia (1820), agglomerati urbani circondati dalla campagna. Fritz Lang, Metropolis (1926): the city of the future. Every creation of the human mind is an ideal artefact. Artificial nature, secondary nature.

Nowadays, we must make an effort to imagine various cities which are no different from the rest of the landscape, and have no significant division between the outside and the inside. The suburbs are the real places of the city (loss of the city centre). The plants and trees are only for show, and do not create the natural city. Avoid class ecology, denounced by Pope Francis in Laudato si’ (gentrification of vertical forest and tree library in Milan, highly artificial nature for the rich).

The space of the human. Siena /Italy, 14th (Photo U. Gehmann)


For reflection

Kant reflects on the Old Testament in his Conjectures on the Origin of History, and on the garden-city dualism, whereas Gan-Eden and Enoch focus on the city and its total misery, born from evil and with evil. The city arose in opposition to the garden, as a consequence of the crime committed by Cain, who became the builder of a city, east of Eden, called Enoch, and named after his son.[12] This is where the man was deprived of the garden in human artifice, but was in need of refuge for erecting a protection for his own life and that of mankind. Kant imagines the pathway of man, and offers us the possibility of working on profitable terrain for understanding the figure of the garden, in particular in its relationship with the city as part of a biblical, historical, and eschatological relationship.

The city is born from evil, with evil. It is ultimately a concept of which little is known and, when faced with the Old Testament text, Kant poses the problem of progress and “opens up” to subsequent thought of future dimensions of history, and of the meaning of human life. Nature and freedom are the two terms of comparison as part of a historical process that allow the garden to reach the city with its perspectives. Kant constructs a history in parallel of the first development of freedom starting from the original disposition of man’s nature by reading Genesis 2-6, which focus on creation and which start from the original disposition of man’s nature.[13] Although born from evil and with the city, civilisation gains positive recognition and development: Kant does in fact launch a debate which will fully impact on German intelligence a century later, geared towards saving the positive aspects of progress with the differentiation between “Zivilization” and “Kultur”, which are also present in the discussion concerning urban perspectives. The “culturalist model” links the individual to the city as its irreplaceable element and denounces the disappearance of the ancient organic unity of the city fabric when under the disintegrating pressure of industrialisation. This model of development affects the beginning of the 19th century up until its conclusion, and is proposed by historical studies and archaeology born from Romanticism: the concept of progress is set aside in the name of that of culture and, above all, in the name of aesthetics instead of hygiene.[14]

Kant praises civilisation and provides a substantially positive oversight. Luxury promotes the arts and sciences, develops human aptitudes, refines morality, and leads human nature to the highest level of beauty. «Luxury is found in men endowed with taste, its variety satisfies our capacity for judgment, and it provides employment to many people, reviving the entire social circle”.[15] Given that civilisation based on the true principles of the education of man and citizen has yet to get under way from the contradiction existing between moral man and natural man, all the evils that afflict human life and the vices that dishonour it all spring into action. Human nature is characterised by opposite dispositions. Kant defines “unsociable sociability” as the antagonism immanent to human nature: men’s natural tendency to (re)unite in society, and to dissociate themselves from others at the same time with “antisocial tendencies” so that everything in their own particular interests can be resolved.

Kantian reflections on the beginning of history lead to an end: the city and progress as a satisfactory result of the general course of human affairs, which progress little by little and from worse to better. “Each person is called by nature itself to contribute his/her part and called according to his/her strengths in terms of progression”. Movement occurs through the dialectic of progress.     

Please Note Carefully: the savage in man becomes a farmer, he has mastered an art that allows him to multiply the fruits of the earth for his own nourishment through sowing and planting. It does not however tolerate the proximity of flocks and there is a latent war with the shepherds until the hypothetical Kantian reconstruction causes the pastoral society, attracted by the increased luxury among the inhabitants of the city and the refinement of their women, to infuse into the inherent misery of the cities (in das glänzende Elend der Städte). “These two populations, hitherto enemies, are merged into one: the war ended, but with it, freedom also ended”.[16] As we know, Kant is not pessimistic in dictating his reasons for the philosophy of history and uncovers the problematic issues of urbanisation.

M. Weber: «gli abitanti di una città non dispongono dell’uso, adeguato alle loro occorrenze, di pascoli e boschi, come accade invece nel “villaggio“. The largest German city of the Middle Ages, Cologne, for example, was missing. It was almost completely and notoriously the “communal pasture” (allmende) from the outset, which was not lacking in any normal village from that era”.[17]


A cardinal viewpoint: we are seeking a guiding concept of the West in a new form

The Western idea of human nature was an erroneous and perverse idea, and was a huge mistake, argues Marshall Sahlins in The Western Illusion of Human Nature (2008), who concludes: “I mean, sorry, but we got things totally wrong. And above all, let’s not forget that this perverse conception of human nature is putting our very existence at risk.”[18] According to Sahlins, Western civilisation has been haunted by the spectre of a human nature which is so greedy, quarrelsome and selfish that it must be kept at bay by an institutional iron fist from which social hierarchies and inequalities are fully justified. This vision presupposes a fundamental contrast between nature and culture where anthropology and palaeontology contradict one another instead. The nature of Homo sapiens is its culture, or rather its cultures. And the very idea that we are slaves to our animal inclinations is nothing more than a socio-historical, or a cultural creation. It is not a concept of happiness, given the results.

Our universe, writes Sahlins, is “still shaped by a distinction between culture and nature that is not evident to anyone else apart from ourselves. Philippe Descola concludes at the end of an ethnographic tour du monde: “The way in which the modern West represents nature is the least shared thing in the world. In many regions of the planet humans and non-humans are seen as human beings who develop in incommensurable worlds according to distinct principles. The environment is not seen as an objective and autonomous sphere: plants and animals, rivers and rocks, meteors and seasons do not fit into the same ontological niche defined their levels of non-humanity”.

Once the spirits disappeared with transcendence, humans inherited an earth that became a “nature” devoid of any subjectivity.”[19]

Nature is an element that Descola rightly maintains has therefore been able to form the main pole of a series of conceptual oppositions constitutive of European thought due to the multiplicity of meanings with which it has been invested: nature and culture, nature and the supernatural, nature and art, nature and spirit, nature and history; the list is long and provides an inexhaustible source of inspiration for philosophical dissertation subjects.”[20]

Escaping natural/cultural dualism: “thinking of nature as the complete system of human beings, living animals and plants, and of “inanimate” things: thinking of it as a totality that evidently also includes our species.

“The time has come to create an ecology where all living things, including man, interact without boundaries being bound. Nature must be thought of and experienced not as being detached from man, but as a set of relationships: the landscape is initially a place of “lives” to be respected and understood, not an object to be museumised, patrimonialised and commodified. Nature is a collection of interconnected lives, not a slogan to revive a financial economy in crisis. It is in fact based on how we inhabit and think about the environment, and how we know how to narrate and form new ways of living, where we will be able to change the world.”[21]

“Human societies and individuals would orient themselves more easily in the world, they would have a better understanding, and they would map it more effectively if they abandoned the dichotomy between “nature” and “culture” once and for all, by making mere surface distinctions that mask a reality much more relevant, and which consists of plots and connections?” .[22]


Ecology of relationships

Superamento della frontiera tra umani e non umani eretta dalla modernità[23].

The human condition is inserted into a larger condition that wraps it up and from which it cannot escape: the terrestrial condition. The human being is not exclusively anything other than the non-human, it is constituted by the reciprocal relationships it establishes with non-humans. Recognising this relationship of interspecific reciprocity therefore implies identifying the same relationship as an acting and sensitive individual: an earthly person.[24] Considering a relationship as a person and no longer just an individual means overcoming the natural/cultural divisional characteristic of modern naturalism.[25]

The example of the ZAD, Zone to Defend, or a terrestrial individual, devises a heterogeneous human landscape due to the diversity of life forms that fit together, and must learn to coexist to the point where the two paths of conflict or contamination cross one another. This infrahuman opening overlaps with another opening to the variety of animal and plant life forms, as well as to the mineral and aquatic variations of the location.[26]

Living in the ZAD means opening an area of reciprocity between humans and non-humans based on the sensitive, daily dialogue of co-habiting. The disorders of genera and species require being inhabited here, in the sense that the experience of inhabiting first of all implies being lived in by something other than oneself. To live means to be in relationship with a given place.[27]

The spirit as a manifestation of a sensitive relationship, of a soul bond, which articulates a way of existing in the world, or a way of living.[28]



When men, animals, plants and minerals communicate with one another. We must start from here by abandoning any nature/culture dualism to enter a winning utopia for the future of living in the world in an increasingly urbanised world as a place to live in: world cities. The search for ideal space, or overcoming artificial nature as a return to nature is understood in its quality of coexistence.

The issue of interculturality. Escaping from eurocentrism.

Anthropology, especially after Descola, provides us with the tools to escape from the nefarious natural/cultural dichotomy and philosophy provides us with the metaphor of the garden.

The indigenous world offers us the cosmology of Pachamama. The wisdom to save the planet and return to human living places, namely genuinely natural ones where the ancient adage of dialogue between the various elements of the one distinct in itself is proposed again (Hölderlin).

Palazzo di Caterina Pushkin, Saint Petersburg, Russia


The garden

The mixture of various elements, the acceptance of the multiplicity of forms and ideas are welcomed in heterogeneous relationships that give life to the beauty of a garden, constituting its high metaphor of a meeting place with a rich texture, that of the connection of the elements that make up nature, including man.

The garden is a container of world visions, a place for history and multi-ethnic cultures to be represented. It is a place of relationships, a metaphor for existence, for well-being: and today it can be the main place of hospitality where everyone recognises multi-ethnic natures and essences for an environmental culture.

A new language is needed to provide a better expression of the pictures of life in their complexity: the language of recognition. The hybrid city, just like any landscape, is a political, economic and social theme that extends beyond identity ideologies and, as such, can propel itself for a thought of recognition. Everything that makes up and animates a picture of life enters into the relationship of a garden metaphor of the world. The recognition of differences, of other elements, of needs, of the economy and society, of materials, spiritual and cultural goods, of heritage, of rights and duties, all of which have genuine capability to perceive landscapes. We need a language devoid of certainties, dynamics, and which is geared towards understanding the world by entering into its profound essence. As Tim Ingold argues, “the existential certainties on which the modern era was founded have brought the world onto the brink of the abyss. We must forge alternative approaches to the problem of how to live, to try to heal the rupture between ways of knowing the world and ways of inhabiting it, and between science and nature.”[29] “We need a new level of understanding of language to encounter the world and not to define it, an understanding that reactivates it as a practice of “creating language”. In a living language which is not semantically locked into a categorical structure but instead creates itself through the inventiveness of the speakers, where words can be as alive and mobile as the practices to which they correspond.”[30] A borderless floating thought welcomes our reflections; a relational thinking to understand rather than designate or define. The heterogeneous reality must be understood, and not indicated, whilst identifying the constituent elements of a concrete constellation as individuals participating in a life framework.[31]

It is for this reason that you are required to enter a place by grasping its qualities and identifying all of the elements of which it consists, and consequently, formulating a thought: an ethic with prospects for caring for places for a good life as taught by the surviving indigenous communities with the Sumak Kawsai when in the Kichwa language means living life to the full, and respecting the Earth, the Pachamama which requires reciprocity between the different holistic elements, is a theme proposed by Andean culture to escape from the global crisis.[32] A theme taken up by Pope Francis in Our Mother Earth.

Buen Vivir is, in brief, an ethic of sufficiency for the entire community, not just for the individual, as it implies a holistic and inclusive vision of the human being, immersed in the grand community of Pacha Mama. It is not a question of “having a better life”, provided that this presupposes any differences that ultimately lead to few surviving at the cost of the sacrifice of many. The central concern of Buen Vivir is not to accumulate to experience a better life. It is about living well both here and now, and without compromising the lives of future generations, which also means distributing and redistributing wealth and income at this moment in time to lay the foundations of a fairer and more equitable society, or in other words, with more freedom and equality. Living well is the transition from an anthropocentric mentality to a socio-biocentric one. Safeguarding the rights of nature as rights to existence. Well-being is a philosophy of life to form another way of life in harmony with nature. Living well is not well-being. Critique of the concept of development. No sustainable development and green capitalism. Environmental mercantilism has not contributed towards improving the situation.



Nature-Pachamama (constitution of Ecuador and Bolivia).[33]

Recognition of Mother Earth – Pachamama as an “indivisible community of life composed of interdependent human beings and which are intimately linked to each other by a common destiny”, [34]and recognising that all terrestrial beings, human and non-human, have an intrinsic value that deserves both respect and care. It was introduced by the indigenous Amerindian people, and this declaration initially had the objective of giving a voice to all those who the colonisation process had made invisible: the colonised people, the farmers torn from their lands as well as all non-humans indifferently classified in a generic and universal form of “nature”.

Pachamama, abitare il mondo, essere nel mondo.

Guiding the concept of the West in a new form to return to the original dialogue, and the substance of the first paradise which could be transmitted today in the ideal location for overcoming the natural/cultural dichotomy and exiting all artificiality. The myth of the garden that flows into that of paradise.

The return of the sacred as “precisely this” (W.F. Otto), il mysterium tremendum et fascinans – for all living elements, both animate and non-animated. Everything is interconnected: “exclusively redefining the place of man, an integral part of a nature which is no longer subjugated, but is infinitely interconnected, a system of interdependent systems” .[35]

The landscape of the ancient world is embedded in the sacredness of the cosmos, and of nature: this became separate instead for the modern man. Here we can find the two “realities” of the numinous: the total opposite (ganz Anderes) of Rudolf Otto, the transcendental idea, and the precisely that of (eben Dies) of Walter Friedrich Otto, where the experienced reality can be seen right before our very eyes, and where the natural course of things, expressed in the myth which, for Salustius, who was perhaps the last pagan thinker, communicates the existence of the gods to all mankind.

The foundation of myth as a true word, mythical knowledge as “an attempt to explain something, or to tell a story that should present itself in the light of an essential truth”.[36]

The myth is a multicultural instance, and natural as such. Two great figures of the imagination run through our landscapes: nature and myth. For Schelling, the latter is a phenomenon comparable in terms of depth, duration and universality only to nature itself. We do in fact not have “any difficulty in imagining a spiritual and ethical disposition that places nature on exactly the same level as mythology, that is, that considers it no less unlikely, surprising and singular than mythology”; given mythology shows itself to have the greatest affinity with nature.[37] We must drink from the pure water of the spring according to Kerényi’s[38] happy expression which re-assesses the relationship with the original, with the source of knowledge.

Kita, Kyoto, Japan


Paradise: for an art of dreaming.A project

Hence the myth of paradise; truth of the origin of the ideal location. We quenched our thirst at the source of a myth to perceive the light of paradise and develop a design concept for a theme park of paradise gardens, linked to the beliefs, cultures and religions of the world which was set to be created through the modern art of arrangement, and considered dream art by Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa. We connected the myths through her with a weaving pathway that started from the original ingens sylva, an enormous forest evoked by Gianbattista Vico, a dark nature to be tamed, «”rich in its origins, with extraordinary vital juices”.[39] We remained in the exedra of the golden age surrounded by this world of Pan with its tremendous and fascinating mystery (Mysterium tremendum et fascinans) and its present manifestation of the sacred. We immersed ourselves in the nostalgic poetry of an origin where everyone lived together happily in a continuous dialogue between gods, men, animals, vegetables and minerals all combined in a holistic dream. The Novalisian fairytale world would shine through “in which men, gods and animals would work together as builders, and in which we could see the origin of the world described in the most natural way”.[40]

We embarked on a long journey through time and space to discover the paradises imagined by humanity having crossed the dense forest of great nostalgia for the Arcadian ideal of a lost age. Some sections are missing, such as the Elysians of the original people crushed by Eurocentric colonialism. A wandering, wayward creature opens up: a dispersion in religious complexity starting from the only common mother remembered by Pindar, a nature which gives life to each of its elements, preceding monotheism by millennia. This grandiose forest, evoked by Dante, which is dense and lively, shields the eyes from the sun’s rays with its thick and leafy branches, thins out to open up more and more to the light, showing the dream of a golden age, as described in purgatory at the entrance to the earthly paradise:

Those who once wrote poetry

The golden age and a happy state of mind, perhaps I was dreaming of this place in Parnassus.[41]

The design aesthetic can imagine paradise gardens dreamed of by various cultures, different peoples and individual men which was handed down over the centuries; timeless dreams now have meaning for the salvation of the planet. It is the final message of the art of dreams which, starting from an a historical nature, can recreate the fairy tale of the golden age and project it into a desirable future where we can cultivate our garden world, fully welcoming Voltaire’s invitation to go out from the pessimism dictated by rotten times for existence by taking care of the earth, our mother. We must cultivate our garden, whose name indicated the maternal womb where life is born and flourishes, the first true paradise of Isis is in the beginning.

The paradise is fertile ground to cultivate, especially when it comes to conservation. It is an intercultural, interreligious terrain. Crossing paradise gardens in a park created ad hoc is a concrete constellation of Elysium, and this stimulates the educational spirit that recognises the simultaneous existence of various visions of a single location by encouraging interreligious dialogue. It also shows the existence of various views of the world to be known and respected, all reflected in the dream of the desirable place for universal happiness. Dialogue is needed today in places that change by welcoming other cultures in between near and distant landscapes, which vary in morphology and ethnic depth. This is why we need to design our imagination.

Man has preserved its distant, veiled memory having lost his original place, and has been transformed into a nostalgic dream, where faith returns to a transcendental dimension after it has existed on Earth. He has actually been expelled from the earthly paradise, the concrete one of his planet, every time he sins against nature, against Elysium itself, and, ultimately, against himself. This exit leads to a distant dream derived from the nostalgia for a happy a historical origin, as reflected by the brightness of a place without pain and pain that existed in all aspirations and was allowed in the transcendence of a world beyond. A common place for all beliefs unites the different faiths in one single concrete constellation of the diversities crossed in our ideal world.

The garden is the soul, claims Hillman, “the soul is not only within us, but also outside of us. And when we are in a garden, whether it is an Asian garden or a French garden or any other type of garden, something of the anima mundi manifests itself. The soul of the world becomes visible and does in fact showcase itself.”[42] We have attempted to capture this soul in every paradise garden with design aesthetics. The drawings are expressions of the anima mundi in the sense as intended by Hillman when he claims: “by soul” I mean the imaginative possibility inherent in our nature, the experience through reflective speculation, the dream, the image and one’s imagination …” .[43] We have therefore dedicated a garden to the art of dreams to expose with imagery and imagination for symbolic project methodology that pervades the park.

Our landscaping demonstrates that every garden includes, and therefore welcomes us into its interior, beyond what the eye can see, extending beyond the visibility of its surface from a profound open perception in its timelessness and contemporaneity, to a millennia of imagination. This depth can be perceived with the arrangement of the elements provided by nature, and positioned according to an aesthetic ideas thanks to a sensitive project that extends beyond pure superficial visibility and beyond the power of the eye. Italo Calvino’s reflection is valid with the observation of the lawn at Mr. Palomar’s house which we have already been able to see.

Its earthly bliss is bathed in light, a divine symbol of life and knowledge that has accompanied us on our journey since the time of the dream of the Australian Bora Ring. We perceive the light, then in its divine essence in amidst the landscape of the Great Mother which leads us to the belvedere and the theatre to see the double immanent and transcendent vision of the paradises from the Greek world to the botanical garden which have progressed over time: from the kepos, the womb garden of goddess to the heaven of Mary, the mother of God with her message of care. Care, however, is a goddess whose myth of modelling man from clay was handed down by Hyginus, with the associated profound meaning of care and concern.[44]

The discovery of paradise therefore beings, as does the promise of otherworldly happiness. The Buddha light flows from the Dilmun into the several gardens which have the promise of an ideal, well-kept location in common. Man has never yet been to paradise, and he will only enter it when he can create a happy living by overturning the nostalgic space in the conservation of Paradise by accepting the warning of the garden with its relationships heralding a better world as a vital reality of the environment in which we live, as remains inconsistent with what is mentioned in Virgil in Dante’s Divine Comedy (I.14.97-99):  There is a mountain that was already happy and made from water and branches, which was called Ida: Now it is deserted as what forbids.

The responsibility of the gardener, cultivator and custodian of biblical memory, to take care of the earth must remain: human responsibility for a sustainable future which has not been burdened by development. We must imagine new measures thanks to the aesthetics of the project which are ethical in their profound sense, namely which pay attention to environmental dynamics. We could label it with a new term: garden ethics, a promise for the future.

But how does it function? This is the question we must ask ourselves for the future also in planning terms, starting from an ethic with its rules of behaviour to put every inhabitant in a position where they can contribute to the quality of places and to the world, and where they follow the indications of Hans Jonas.[45] Everyone plays their role and their part in an ethic of responsibility, participating in the aesthetics of the project geared towards improving human activity, with “soft” construction which is compatible with the conservation of the planet, the one true and only paradise. We can say: this means becoming gardeners.

The positivity of progress, an illusion founded on the Kantian philosophy of history, is a form of completely collapsed hope for a better future. The insecurity and anxieties of the present force us into taking refuge in the past with a reference to our cultural, ethnic, religious and national backgrounds. The future becomes the past, not the romantic one of a borderless narrative, but instead one of ideological and agitated days of yore with fundamentalist flags. Globalisation both unifies and divides at the same time. Traditional societies are shattered by westernisation, neoliberalism and individualistic selfishness which have eroded the ancient channels of solidarity.

The urban crisis wipes out community relations with a clear transformation of living. Cities are transformed into megacities full of poor populous ghettos and city walls are erected to protect the residences of the wealthy. The imbalance between poverty and wealth is increasing and destroys places together with the harmony of coexistence and sharing. Desertification invades the countryside due to urban demographic concentration and industrialised monocultures; for the use of pesticides causing the absence of animal life, for the concentration of industrialised farming producing food contaminated by hormones and antibiotics, and politics is no longer able to address any of these issues.[46]

The progressive homologation between places and cultures is transforming every landscape without distinction. The frequently asked question is aimed at the differences between us and others, or between our abodes and those of others. How is this so if true? This presents the problem of identifying a specific identity rooted in the past that differentiates us from others emerges. We and the others, therefore, are voices that make a sound in a constant contradiction between the present by welcoming everything that the market offers, the global homogeneous uniformity as an equal, and the past of places and traditions. The mechanism of a defence of identity, where memory and roots are then triggered;[47] where an identity is now based on non-existent tradition.

We can activate the sense of belonging to one place, to defend its beauty so that we do not lose the local specificity in the face of pressing homologation. The home must be preserved from real and genuine enemies, which are pollution and environmental exploitation, and fuelled by those who claim to improve levels of well-being through development. These appeal to the same identity, to the same memory and to the same roots with deceptive ideological force as they originate from the same stock.

We cannot stand still when the planet is in ruins. Let us take decisive action so as not to impoverish the poetry written in landscapes; and to leave it to those who come after us, those who perpetuate life. We must imagine new measures and learn how to live, taking care of places of life whenever we lose faith in the present reality, and are seeking support in ideologies and visions of the world disassociated with this reality. The landscape process is then constituted as a borderless thought of narration that reveals a tension of existence: an ethic, or therefore, an aesthetics to recover nature from devastating human violence. An ethic of the free man who is self-aware of his world promotes aesthetic ideas to perpetuate the landscape process thanks to the garden in its own sense without any preconceived boundaries. It supports a creative spirit, which is attentive to care, and free from any mechanism, a harbinger of thought and action compliant with the places of life. The initial idea of this ethic for the future is freedom as an art form and the possibility of action in the beauty that unites every concept. This is why a good deal of aesthetic strength is needed for a return to poetry, a practical act required for our humanity, to care for it and to store it with the aesthetics of beauty and with the ethics of freedom: of the beautiful and the good, with a concrete return to Earth, to the beauty of a landscape that reflects a healthy tension. This is where the aesthetic project is crucial.

Identification, relationship, recognition and narration are flexible tools aimed at understanding a place in its multiplicity, variety and heterogeneity, and recognising the details of a diversity that relate to a context of life. Identifying to welcome new particular situations and train a man who identifies himself in differences. Consequently, opening a new phase with an extraordinary ethical scope with the spirit of welcome and unity in diversity to highlight the beauty of life paintings, of living together while respecting the environment: a radically aesthetic action, the proposition of true paradise.

Paying attention to one’s landscape involves the entire way of life of populations with the major issues among societies that cross the world. A very brief government of transformation which finds its operational terrain in individual landscapes. Quality tools are needed for the governance of places during this period of significant upheaval. Each landscape forms part of the totality of the active and participatory life that founded the ethos with the perceptive dimension and the dignity of a framework of life, where every citizen plays their role without any exceptions. A precise shared measure, suitable for maintaining the quality of living well.

This reality must be grasped to cast a glance and therefore predict the action as it unfolds from start to finish by inserting itself into the landscape process: into the narrative, into the inexhaustible surface of visible objects contained in a garden. The role of anticipation and prediction is essential and their aspects are manifold. We therefore recognise the places and the evidence that emerge. They compare these with each other and with that of the observer; with relative and shared recognitions. As a master of my existence, of my clothes, I no longer accept a foreign, imposed narrative of my life framework, but I demand recognition of my role: I live therefore as I am.

Let us therefore learn to live, and to exist. The garden is an ethical-aesthetic archetype capable of indicating, with Rainer Maria Rilke’s Adam in the aesthetics of the project, as it shows the way towards a new earth and a radical rethinking of living on earth to find the fullness of paradise with its light.

Our journey of discovery through gardens leads us to a fundamental consideration: true paradise is our planet, our earth is no longer considered a mother, is no longer cared for, nor respected. Paradise has moved away from this, and has become a hyper uranium place, transcending our existence, a dream artfully reconstructed by us and contained in the gardens. The journey through the various gardens leads us to note, and consequently to reflect, the multiformity of religions belonging to the variety of our world, a true paradise to be safeguarded in its rich diversity of places and cultures.

Given these assumptions, we must think of another world, of new utopias to promote harmony between man and nature. Universality of living well.

Pachamama as a new society of relationships, of reciprocity. Thinking about a change of era by building the alternative, a path to imagine, a category in permanent construction and reproduction. People are required to take a holistic approach in order to understand the diversity of the elements that condition human actions that favour living well: which among others, include knowledge, codes of ethical and spiritual conduct in relationships with the environment, human values, and the vision of the future. Overcoming culture for cultures: interculturality.

Living well is an opportunity to build another society based on peaceful and citizen coexistence in harmony with nature, starting from the knowledge of the different cultural humans existing in the country and in the world.

[1]See U. Guzzoni, Landschaften, in Id., Wege im Denken: Versuche mit und ohne Heidegger, Karl Alber Verlag, Freiburg/Muenchen 1990, pp. 25-59; di A. Stavru in Id., “Paesaggi. J’aime les nuages…» (1990), in three series (1994), pp. 7-29.

[2] M. Augé, Non lieux, Seuil, Paris 1992; tr. it. di D. Rolland, Nonluoghi. Introduzione a una antropologia della surmodernità, Eleuthera, Milano 1993, p. 48.

[3] Ibid., p. 80.

[4] A. Cozzo, Dimensioni umane della questione ecologica nella Grecia antica, in C. Calame, L’uomo e il suo ambiente. Al di là dell’opposizione natura/cultura (2015), Sellerio, Palermo 2021, p. 89.

[5] Sulla perdita della natura da parte dell’uomo moderno si veda F. Schiller, Ūber naive und sentimentalische Dichtung.

[6] Cfr. G. De Marzo, Buen vivir. Per una nuova democrazia della terra, Ediesse, Roma 2009.

[7] K. Hübner, Die Wahrheit des Mithos (1985), tr. it. Di P. Capriolo, Feltrinelli, Milano 1990, p. 18.

[8] Ph. Descola, Introduction, in Les Natures en question. Colloque annuel 2017, Sous la direction de Ph. Descola, Odile Jacob, Paris, 2018, p.7.

[9]For a history of greenery, see Mr. Pastoureau, Vert. Histoire d’une couleur, du Seuil, Paris 2013. 

[10] I. Calvino, Palomar, in Romanzi e racconti, vol. II, Mondadori, Milano 2004, pp. 897-900.

[11]  Ibid., p. 920.

[12] Ibid., 4.17.

[13] I. Kant, «Congetture sull’origine della storia», in I.Kant, Scritti politici e di filosofia della storia e del diritto, tradotti da G.Solari e G.Vidari, UTET, Torino 19652, pp.195-211, p.195.

[14] Cfr. F. Choay, La città. Utopie e realtà (1965), tr. it. di P. Ponis, 2 voll., Einaudi, Torino 1973, vol. 1, pp. 17-20.

[15] I. Kant, Vorlesung über Ethik,, Laterza, Bari 1971, pp.201-202.

[16] I. Kant, «Congetture sull’origine della storia», cit., p. 208.

[17] M. Weber, Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft.

[18] M. Sahlins, Un grosso sbaglio. L’idea occidentale di natura umana (2008), tr. it. di R. Falcinelli, Elèuthera, Milano 2010, p. 127.

[19] Cfr. M. Sahlins con F.B. Herry Jr., La nuova scienza dell’universo incantato. Un’antropologia dell’umanità (quasi tutta), (2022), tr. it. di G. Busacca, Cortina, Milano 2023, p. 4.

[20] Ph. Descola, «Introduction», in Les Natures en question, sous la direction de Ph. Descola, Odile Jacob, Paris 2018, pp. 7-16, p. 7.

[21] A. Staid, Essere natura. Uno sguardo antropologico per cambiare il nostro rapporto con l’ambiente, Utet, Milano 2022, pp. 13-14.

[22] Ph. Blom, Die Unterwerfung. Anfang und Ende der menschlichen Herrenschaft über die Natur, Carl Hanser Verlag, München, 2022; La natura sottomessa. Ascesa e declino di un’idea, tr. it. F. Peri, Marsilio, Venezia 20023, pp. 319-320.

S. Gosselin, D. gé Bartoli, La condition terrestri, du Seuil, Paris 2022, p. 77.[23]

[24] Ibid., p. 79.

[25] Ibid., p. 85.

[26] Ibid., p. 88.

[27] Ibidem.

[28] Ibid., p.90.

[29] T. Ingold, Anthropology. Why It Matters, Polity Press, Cambridge 2018; tr. It. di G. Raimondi, Antropologia. Ripensare il mondo, Meltemi, Milano 2020, p. 28.

[30] T. Ingold, Corrispondenze, cit., p. 220.

[31] Cfr. U. Guzzoni, Landschaften, in Id., Wege im Denken: Versuche mit und ohne Heidegger, Karl Alber Verlag, Freiburg/Muenchen 1990, pp. 25-59; tr. it. di A. Stavru in Id., «Paesaggi. J’aime les nuages…», (1990), in Itinerari, 3 (1994), pp. 7-29

[32] Sul tema cfr. per esempio A.O. Freire, Buen Vivir vs. Sumak Kawsay. Reforma capitalista y revolución alter-nativa. Una propuesta desde los Andes para salir de la crisis global, Ciccus, Buenos Aires 2013.

[33] Sul tema si veda M. Venturi Ferriolo, Oltre il giardino. Filosofia di paesaggio, Einaudi, Torino n2019, pp. 31-62 e S. Gosselin, D. gé Bartoli, La condition terrestre, p.107.

[34] Dichiarazione universale dei diritti della Madre Terra, Cochabamba 2010.

[35] Ph. Blom, Die Unterwerfung. Anfang und Ende der menschlichen Herrenschaft über die Natur, tr. It., p. 318. Cfr. T. Ingold, Correspondences, Polity Press, Cambridge 2021.

[36] G. de Santillana, The Origins of Scientific Thought. From Anassimander to Proclus, 600 B.C.-500 A.D. (1961); Le origini del pensiero scientifico. Da Anassimandro a Proclo 600 A.C. – 500 D.C., a cura di M. Sellito, tr. it. di G. De Angelis, Adelphi, Milano 1964; nuova edizione 20232, p. 15.

[37] F.W.J. Schelling, Filosofia della mitologia. A historical-critical introduction. Lezioni (1842), a cura di T. Griffero, Guerini e Associati, Milano 1998, p. 344.

[38] K. Kerényi, Introduzione: Origine e fondazione nella mitologia, in C. G. Jung, K. Kerényi, Prolegomeni allo studio scientifico della mitologia (1942), tr. it. di A. Brelich, Bollati Boringhieri 1972, pp. 11-43, p. 13.

[39] F. Nicolini, La giovinezza di G. B. Vico, Laterza, Bari 1932. Ma sul tema si veda E. Paci, Ingens sylva (1949), Bompiani, Milano 19942.

[40] Novalis, I discepoli di Sais, in I Romantici Tedeschi, 1 Narrativa, a cura di G. Bevilacqua, Milano, Rizzoli, p.151.

[41] Dante, La Divina Commedia, Purgatorio, XXVIII, 139-141.

[42] J. Hillman, Il piacere di pensare, conversazione con Silvia Ronchey, BUR, Milano 2001, pp. 7-8.

[43] Ibid., p.44.

[44] Tema ricordato da R.P. Harrison, Giardini. Riflessioni sulla condizione umana, tr. it. Di M. Matullo e V. Nicolì, Fazi, Roma 2009.

[45] H. Jonas, Il principio responsabilità. Un’etica per la civiltà tecnologica, tr. it. a cura di P.P. Portinaro, Einaudi, Torino 1990.

[46] Cfr. E. Morin, La Voie. Pour l’avenir de l’humanité, Fayard, Paris 2011, pp. 20-23.

[47] Cfr. M. Bettini, Contro le radici. Tradizione, identità, memoria, il Mulino,Bologna 2011, pp.6-16.