Observatory – Cobble habitat
Project by Carlo Scoccianti | Interventions

The observatory was designed for the observation of waterfowl that alight on the adjacent lake of the work-site Beyond Agnes Denes (tribute to). At the same time, its structure was also conceived as a giant “refuge” for many species of small fauna (reptiles, amphibians, micro-mammals, insects, etc.). For this purpose, the walls were constructed as a wide-meshed metal wire cage (with large holes to ensure ease of entry and exit for all species at each point), inside which stones were laid without the use of mortar. Thanks to these ample gaps and spaces between the stones, wildlife can find shelter and reside within the observatory. While human beings only use the construction for a few hours per week (usually during the guided tours that take place on Saturdays and Sundays), the other species remain there throughout the year, day and night.


The artwork is intended to make us reflect on the use of space by subjects other than humans. The structure therefore becomes a symbol of the entire territory, the great “container” of the multitude of living species.


The “cobbles” used in the intervention come from the ancient alluvial deposits of the Arno River and other watercourses on the Florentine plain. On the surface of these cobbles, one can see the “fossilised” traces of the water that used to flow over them. This opens up a dialogue between the new wetland visible from the observatory and what must once have been the ancient appearance of this landscape, when water dominated the entire territory. 






Area of intervention

Protected area of the WWF Oasis Stagni di Focognano, Campi Bisenzio (Florence).
The area is located within the Site of Community Importance (SCI), Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and Special Protection Area (SPA) of the Stagni della Piana Fiorentina e Pratese (Natura 2000 code IT5140011).


Status before intervention

Arable fields cultivated with intensive farming methods. 


Type of intervention

Construction of an observatory in electrofusion-welded wire mesh (with a wide mesh of 6 x 6 cm) filled with alluvial cobbles, occupying a covered area of 37.3 m2.
The observatory is located on one side of the wetlands titled Beyond Agnes Denes (tribute to).
Numerous volunteers are involved in the work (social art intervention), particularly in the search for stones, their transportation to the site and subsequent washing, and their positioning within the observatory walls. 


Work status

Under construction.


Authorities/agencies involved

- Committee for the WWF Oases of the Florence area


Main bioindicators used to monitor the ecological functionality of the work-element

- Amphibians, with particular reference to Italian crested newts (Triturus carnifex), smooth newts (Lissotriton vulgaris), green toads (Bufo viridis) and Italian tree frogs (Hyla intermedia): refuge throughout the winter and summer periods. 
- Reptiles, with particular reference to Moorish geckos (Tarentola mauritanica), slow worms (Anguis fragilis); western green lizards (Lacerta bilineata), common wall lizards (Podarcis muralis), Italian wall lizards (Podarcis sicula), western whip snakes (Hierophis viridiflavus) and grass snakes (Natrix natrix): refuge.
- Micro-mammals: refuge.