Strawberry Fields Forever? Agricultural Heritage as Place-Based Landscape Design

Potter, Emma, School of Architecture, University of Virginia
Bohannon, CL, Ph.D., FASLA, University of Virginia

This project is an inland boardwalk design that responds to sea level rise, plant hardiness zone shifts, and urbanization. The goal of the thesis is to strategically negotiate access and reinforce a sense of identity in a shifting environment. Seams of agricultural heritage are threaded throughout Pungo, Virginia. Fertile soil and favorable climate make it an ideal location for cultivation of the strawberry. As a result, strawberries have become ingrained in the character of Pungo and its residents. It symbolizes a communal commitment to adapt and thrive in the face of shifting ecological veracities, demonstrating resilience amid uncertainty. Current social realities are rife with tension, ultimately resistant to change. A sensitively adapted phased development is therefore necessary as a method that refutes urgency and embraces the incremental change that occurs in the everyday. At the core of this design investigation lies a fundamental inquiry: what happens to community cohesion and identity when a cultural symbol deeply embedded in the fabric of the landscape fades into memory? I believe this inland boardwalk will serve as a legible indicator to a changing landscape as a proactive nod to the community to better understand future edges. Suggestion of what is to come through an intervention that is empathetic and community-minded will support an optimistic future in Virginia Beach as the community continues to accept the changing environment.

MLA (Master of Landscape Architecture)
environment, Pungo, Virginia Beach, cultural identity, Landscape Architecture, sea level rise, wetland, strawberry, agriculture, community building, community engagement, heritage, boardwalk, phased development, place-based
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