The Sluices
Project by Carlo Scoccianti | Interventi

The current appearance of the marshland to the northwest of the city of Florence is the result of the extensive land reclamation work that has been continually carried out, in an organized and precise manner, at least since Etruscan times. It has also seen large transformation in the form of a dense built fabric, which emerged mostly in the last 50 years. 


The construction in 2003 of the new wetland 'Lake Acqualunga', work-site where this work-element is found, occurs due to the excavation of an agricultural field, the shaping of the banks and lake bottom, construction of islets and islands, and creation of observation points for the public. A complement of the intervention, the work-element, has been placed at the front of the main observation point.  


Stone (pietra serena) is the main material used throughout the intervention. The original stipes of the dams were previously placed along the dikes to control the irrigation of the fields. These slabs in the past, were removed from the 'original rock' of the nearby mountain and transported into the plain to complete the reclamation of the marshes. They had been placed in pairs along the ditches alongside wooden planks, all within a system of canals which consisted of the forced retention of water system that defined the area.  


Today, these types of farming systems have been abandoned in favor of more mechanized techniques and more intensive cultivation. After decades of neglect, these large slabs are returned to the light: erected in a scattered manner, these carve their way towards the observer and emerge from the surface of the water of the new marsh in a kind of 'newfound serenity'. Arranged so they are no longer used as points of support for wooden boards, the slabs no longer serve their past function. Water in fact, free element par excellence, pervades today throughout the entire area and the dams are the first indication of the newfound natural atmosphere. The slabs have also acquired an ecological function as roosts for dozens of waterfowl. 


The dams, through reminiscent of a period not long gone, now belong entirely to the past: they are a symbol of the radical changes that have taken place in this area changed by man for at least 2500 years. With the tremendous deployment of resources, man has in fact for centuries tried to remove water from the plains (first to cultivate them, more recently to extend the urban fabric) now, have realized the error of their ways. They have been forced to repair the marshes where there remains open space which used to contain flood water (flood-control storage areas), investing in the process large quantities of resources. A 'recurring' pattern which is in many senses absurd, demonstrating thus how insensitive it is to fight against territory instead of coexisting with its defining features. The dams were 'witnesses' of it all. The viewer will thus feel observed by these stones, as if asking why all these hundreds of years of hostility towards the water were necessary only to, in the end, return the territory once more to its original condition. 



Work-element realized within the work-site



Focognano Lakes


Type of intervention

Retrieval and preparation of stone slabs (pietra serena, formed part of old construct). Positioning of these in the bed of the lake. All undertaken with the aid of mechanical equipment (tractors) and the manual intervention on the part of volunteers (social art interventions). 


Stage of the project



Main bio-indicators (species or ‘groups’ of species)  reference for monitoring the ecological functionality of the Work-Site:

 -Ardeidae (with particular attention to: Grey Heron, Ardea Cinerea;  Little egret,  Egretta garzetta; Night Heron, Nycticorax nycticorax): roost

-Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis): roost


Main authorities / agencies involved in the intervention

- Comitato per le Oasi WWF dell'Area Fiorentina