Anticipating the decommissioning of the Massachusetts Military Reservation (MMR) Field- craft sets up an operative platform for the future of conservation: preservation through adaptation. Fieldcraft, a military term referring to the codified reading of the landscape for survival, is adopted as a framework for deciphering micro and macro processes within the landscape, as a means to extract biodiversity from large, open spaces. Fieldcraft transforms through cycles of selective arrested succession and the promotion of seed dispersion, in an effort to employ vegetation as a means to nurture flexible and resilient landscapes.
Anticipating the decommissioning of the Massachusetts Military Reservation and a growing need to understand and embrace the role of conservation within military perimeters, Fieldcraft sets up an operative platform for the U.S. Army National Guard and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection to ecologically service the region. A mosaic within a large-scale patch, the project seeks to transform the Massachusetts Military Reservation (MMR) through cycles of selective arrested succession (e.g. mowing, grazing, clear cutting) and the promotion of seed dispersion to create a network of diverse and evolving habitats as an innovative mode of conservation: conservation through adaptation. Fieldcraft, a military term referring to the codified reading of the landscape for survival, is adopted as a framework for encoding and deciphering micro and macro ecological processes within the designed landscape, as a means to extract the most ecological value by promoting the most biodiversity from large, open spaces.
In the U.S. over 15 million acres of publicly inaccessible land are owned and operated by the military. As warfare training moves internationally and military bases across the country are being decommissioned, Field- craft seeks to remediate, repurpose, and redefine the degraded and contaminated military landscape, in order to support the conversion from private interest, to public territory. Instead of approaching conservation with the aim of preserving a static definition of the landscape, Fieldcraft aims to exploit on-site unexploded ordinance detonation and circulatory flows—wind, hydrology, bird migration, transportation networks, human move- ment, and so on—to make conservation an active agent in changing the land, by recovering and progressing past and present conditions. Working primarily with flows and processes that are active agents in seed dispersal, we attempt to understand vegetation—native and non-native—as a means to nurture flexible and resilient landscapes, both locally and regionally.
The first departure converts the central impact area into a proving ground, by detecting under- ground and unexploded ordinances and then supporting on site detonation. The residual explosives and their leeching contaminants are emphasized through their remediation using biopiles. Biopiles are used to reduce concentrations of petroleum by enhancing microbial activity. A cut-and-fill strategy of biopiles, is supplemented by mycoremediation techniques, and an enhanced landform to reinforce the site conditions. These piles are calibrat- ed to the relative blast size and amount of contamination. So, for instance, the closer the biopile is to the area of contamination, the larger the biopile is. The landform creates a scene of warning, demarcating go and no-go zones for visitors and army operatives.
The UXO detonation at the central impact area is the catalyst for the physical landscape, triggering not only a landform response to contamination, but also a nucleus for seeding. Seed dispersion occurs through space and time. According to precedents, seeds deposited in the soil’s seed bank can reach up to 500 years old. The project then has the potential to uncover historic landscapes of the Cape, such as the agricultural practices of Native Americans and pilgrims.
ARRESTED SUCCESSION Cycles of arrested succession are performed across the MMR—mowing, patch cutting, and sheep grazing open up the dense vegetation of the site. By establishing open areas with richer amended soils supported by the mycosphere, the open land not only allows seeds to more easily to take root, which in turn creates new and evolving spatial conditions, but also introduces seed dispersal corridors.
Existing roads are strategically exploited as both an access point for machinery, particularly equipment used for patch cutting and mowing, and a vector for seed dispersal. Select roads are closed to vehicular traffic, but open for pedestrian access, and left to decay. These closed roads, now pathways, restore the integrity of the landscape by establishing corridors and patches, while other roads are elevated to explore another reading of the landscape.
To facilitate the new reading of the land—its new fieldcraft—and to offer specific destination points, viewing platforms and a hot air balloon launch are constructed throughout the site and at the airfield, respectively, to raise the visitor off the ground and into the sky. These stations connect with the larger network of watchtowers that link the old fire towers near Boston to the lighthouses of Cape Cod. Finally, a seed bank is built and maintained to store, archive, and study the seeds that pass through the site, as well as to house a monitoring station that studies and researches the dynamics of the landscape.
The seed dispersal diagram draws relationships between vegetation on site and their seed dispersal agents, according to when the plants go to seed and when their agents are most active on site. The diagram also speculates on emerging flora and fauna associated with new, diverse habitats. An interactive animation runs over a model, showing how seeds may potentially move throughout the landform near the Central Impact Area and around the road, according to the seed disper- sal agents.