Lying beneath Etna on the European/African tectonic fault, Sicily is constantly re-formed: human occupation raised to the ground or subsumed beneath lava and ash, yet perpetually renewed by nature and re-cultivated by people, the rich volcanic soils supporting abundant vineyards, orchards, olive groves, villages, towns and cities. While Oxford’s seasonal transformation from meadow to flood plain, student campus to tourist hotspot, is less violent it has also cultivated a city, people, and landscape of influence, and affluence built on constant renewal and change.
“Terroir”: is the expression of place through produce and culture: Bordeaux wine, Darjeeling tea, Evesham asparagus, Caribbean rum, a finely tuned crop to harness the local conditions precisely reflects the weather, climate, soil, geology, orientation, topography, culture and traditions of where they were grown and made, captured in colour, aroma, flavour and texture, and so tasting can be enough to reveal the origin.
This year Unit G will explore the “Terroir” of Oxford and Catania, Sicily: cultivating, nurturing, harvesting and transforming produce into product, to inform an architecture specific to place, purpose and people.
The process is as important as the product, the route as important as the destination; we start with a journey.