The negotiated mountains. Tourism and land
regulation in the Alps
from 1870 to 1970
project funded by FNS.
Start and length: autumn 2012, 36 months
involved: Mendrisio Architecture Academy
leader: Luigi Lorenzetti
Collaborators: Daniela Delmenico
research has widely investigated the origins, characteristics
and pathways of the Alpine tourism industry structuring its analysis around the double perspective of
supply and demand. However, several of the issues related to the many consequences of the tourism industry
on the Alpine world, especially on the environment, still remain open. The research project “Negotiated
mountains” analyses the modalities of interaction of local communities involved in touristic activities
with the Alpine territories from 1870 to 1970. During this century the touristic practice has spread
as a mass phenomenon, changing the ways of enjoying the mountains, an ever-increasing attendance and
demand for space allocated to visitors’ accommodation (second homes and holiday apartments).
comparing two Alpine regions (the Valais and Sondrio province) and two locations (Morgines-Champery
and Madesimo) and by combining different approaches (amongst which a map analysis and oral survey),
the project aims at reconstructing and examining the interactions between tourist activities and their
regulatory measures, as well as the changes that occured in such interactions. From this perspective,
actions and measures taken in order to ensure the land equilibrium, and to restore it if necessary,
are also taken into consideration. Land regulation includes all the actions and measures issued from
the political action of public entities (i.e. in the form of land planning) as well as managerial or
administrative initiatives – both public and private - operating at local or regional level, in a formal
or less formal environment, which aim at enabling the use and “governance” of land resources with a
Inspired by the new institutionalist approach, land
regulation is seen as a result of the interaction between environment and land representatives, institutions,
organisations within a land system which is defined and built around touristic activites, the land and
real estate property regimes and the environmental context. On the basis of this theoretical framework,
the project aims at verifying to which extent the efficiency of land regulation is linked to the institutions
and organisations’ ability to manage the intrinsic contradiction derived from the specialisation of
land for touristic purposes and the increasing uncertainty of these transactions.
and risk management on the Gotthard tracks: memories,
This research is part of the project
Myths, landscapes and technology promoted by the Academy of Architecture in Mendrisio (Christian Sumi)
and financed by CUS.
Start and duration: spring 2011,
Person in charge: Luigi Lorenzetti
The alpine environment has always represented
a challenge for mankind. A challenge which has been tackled with a variety of instruments and solutions:
by means of technology but also resorting to the instruments of collective memory and prevention. The
Gotthard region is an emblematic example: this mountainous area, which is exposed to the natural dangers
of a hostile environment, is also an important passageway. From the opening of the first path through
the Schollenen Gorge in the 13th century, this area has required the development of solutions aiming
at facilitating and reducing the inconveniences and the dangers that it can cause.
population and anthropization of the Gotthard region are related to a large extent to the opening of
the mountain pass that connects the Leventina and Reuss valleys and to the onset of the economy. These
factors spurred the need in the population to manage the territory.
history of the Gotthard is marked by the progressive lowering of the altitude of the crossing; from
the mule track and the surfaced road which climbed up to the pass, to the railway and the motorway that
connect the two mountainsides via the respective tunnel entrances in Airolo and Goschenen, up to the most recent
Alptransit. The crossing point of Alptransit is situated at the bottom of the Ticino and Reuss valleys.
This lowering is reflected in a reduction of the travelling time and also of the natural risks posed by the mountain. However, it still does not eliminate the dangers connected to transit and, specifically, to
the crossing of the Alps.
This project becomes part of a wide-ranging series of studies dedicated to natural disasters and their representations (Quenet,
2000; Pfister, 2002; Walter, 2006; Walter, 2008; Zwierlei, Graf, 2010) and to the management of risks
by mountain populations (Granet-Abisset, 2000; Bugnot, Granet-Abisset, 2002; Barrue, 2005; Favier, 2005;
Bonardi, 2005; Granet-Abisset, 2006; Favier/Remacle, 2007; Granet-Abisset, 2008). The aim of the present
study is to reconstruct the disaster prevention strategies and the risk management measures connected
to the crossing of the Gotthard from the Middle Ages until the present day.
project is structured around a double perspective:
The first step consists
in analysing the various strategies aimed at managing the natural dangers connected to the alpine area
and to the crossing of such an area. A particular emphasis will be put on the strategies for accident
and disaster prevention and their evolution over the years by analysing the relationship between memory
and technology innovation as well as the relationship between spatial planning and management of natural
dangers. In this perspective special attention will be paid to the role of the wood as a protective
element and to the interactions that have developed between the local communities and the institutions
in charge of organising the crossings through or under the Gotthard. This analysis will enable the contents
of the risk culture in the alpine society to be outlined, where the main components of the risk culture
are experience and memory. On the other hand, the analysis aims at verifying to what extent the engineering
planning of the modern transportation systems (railway, motorway) has resorted to and integrated the
memory of risk present in the local communities.
The second step consists
in analysing the risks caused by the crossing of the Alps, in this specific case the Gotthard, in particular by the means and structures that support it. The risk issue acquires particular
importance after the advent of mechanisation, when the railway enters the alpine territory. At the dawn
of the railway era, the risks connected to the crossing of the Alps were incidental to the technical
system (Caron, 2010), whereas later on, especially after the opening of the motorway route and tunnel,
the environmental risks appear to prevail. Parallel to the development of an environmental conscience,
the transport of dangerous substances and the growing volume of motorised traffic have become the major
hazard aspects for the natural environment and the safety of the local population.
the sources such as travel diaries and descriptions supplied by travellers and tourists who travel over
the Gotthard in modern times, the present study resorts to the patrician, communal and cantonal (Cantons
Ticino and Uri) archive documentation concerning forest management and the embankment and protection
of the transit roads. In-depth research will also be carried out in the archives of the Swiss Federal
Railways and the Federal Roads Office.
reinvented landscape: expropriations and territorial practices on the Gotthard transit paths, 1860/1920
This research is part of the project Myths, landscapes
and technology promoted by the Academy of Architecture in Mendrisio (Christian Sumi) financed by CUS.
and duration: autumn 2010, 24 months.
Person in charge: Luigi Lorenzetti
Historical and geographical studies
have repeatedly underlined the role of communication roads as structuring territorial elements. The
alpine territory, in particular, has shown itself to be an important field of study of their interrelation
with the dynamics of regional economic development and the definition of territoriality, i.e. the relationship
system that connects the local population and the individual to their living space. However, the construction of communication roads causes breaches in the landscape texture and a series
of repercussions which affect the individual relationships with property, the micro-territorial practices
and the landscape perception at various levels.
project’s objectives in synthesis:
To analyse the (administrative and
financial) management forms of the expropriation procedures of the areas intended to be occupied by transport structures. In other words, the project aims at reconstructing
the methods of interaction between public authorities and their interests and individual interests.
reconstruct the dialectics between the (geographical and territorial) needs and the limits represented
by the local settlement and property structure. To be more accurate, the aim is to reconstruct the logic and the interactions between the objectives of highway engineering
and the difficulties represented by the territorial reality (morphological and property structure, …).
evaluate the differential impact of the railway and motorway lines on the territory and the landscape.
In this case it means analysing the effects of the route networks and their subsequent expropriations
on the structure of property, on the dynamics of the local real estate market and, last but not least,
on the landscape. In the particular case of the motorway, the aim is to estimate the impact of the motorway
structures on the area plan (how many surfaces they have “cost”, what kind, …) and reconstruct the impact
on the landscape by means of photographic documentation and if necessary also resorting to oral history
by interviewing people involved in expropriations.
networks: science and politics in the correspondence of Johann Jakob Scheuchzer (1672-1733).
in charge: Dr. Simona Boscani Leoni CV Network project
Collaborators: Dr. Barbel Schnegg, Cand.phil Dunja
Translator Latin-German: Dr. Barbel Schnegg
present project is structured in two parts. The first part of the research provides for the publishing
of a commented edition of part of the written correspondence between the scholar and doctor from Zurich
Jakob Scheuchzer (1672-1733) and his alpine correspondents, in particular those who lived in the Three
Leagues of Graubunden. This correspondence has shown itself to be a crucial factor within the processes
of collecting information on the mountainous regions and of valorising the homo alpinus helveticus, who
finds a first-class representative in the person of Scheuchzer in the pre-Enlightenment era. The “provincial” elite supplied the scholar with important information on their country and various
material (books, copies of historical documents, etc.) and in their turn became multipliers of epistolary
contacts. The project’s aim is to make new documents accessible in order to be able to analyse the knowledge
flow mechanisms at the local and international level in the modern era and to allow an original interpretation
of the role of correspondence among scholars in the 17th and 18th centuries, as well as to study the
alternative (and for this reason still largely unknown) processes of communication and circulation of
The second aim of the project consists in creating
an online repertoire of Scheuchzer’s correspondence, which is constituted by about fifty mostly unpublished
volumes, which are kept by the Zentralbibliothek in Zurich. The research aims at cataloguing the fund
analysed for the preparation of the printed edition as well as other funds (at least ten volumes).
Modern history/ History of communication/ History of science
/ Cultural history.
Institutions involved in the project:
fur Kulturforschung Graubunden (Chur)
Laboratorio di Storia delle Alpi,
Other contacts: Zentralbibliothek Zurich / Universitat
Zurich / ETH Zurich / Universitat Bern / Universitat Luzern / Universitat Heidelberg.
present the project is kindly supported by the Institut fur Kulturforschung Graubunden (Chur) and by
the Swiss National Science Foundation.
Project duration (approximate):