Lithic Vitality

Walrath, Marissa, School of Architecture, University of Virginia
Putalik, Erin, AR-Landscape Architecture, University of Virginia

Lithic Vitality argues for methods of design that reposition the perceived role of rock in landscapes; from practical aesthetic elements to vital lithic entities– vital in that they are kinetically active, chemically altering, and intrinsically important to the physical and ideological conception of place. Through an exploration of the everyday vibrancy of the Catoctin Metabasalt within the Blue Ridge, this thesis foregrounds rock as a profound and active agent– constantly coming into new relations at compounding scales that reveal the ever-evolving interplay between the lithic and its surroundings.

Design is used as a tool to unravel rock as a force through five aspects of lithic vitality– physical, chemical, aesthetic, geologic, and narrative. Observing the minerals, affinities, fabrics, and chronicles within rock reveals that lithic bodies have no mundane application. From gravel paths and retaining walls to roadcuts and mountains, rock is acknowledged as an actant that is not restrained to traditional conceptions of geologic time, but instead works along with animal, vegetal, environmental, and cultural forces to constantly create new worlds.

MLA (Master of Landscape Architecture)
lithic vitality, geologic time, geology in landscape architecture, catoctin formation, designing with stone, designing with rock

This work is not the MLA thesis. It is a representation of the thesis project verbally and visually presented on May 6, 2024.

Issued Date: