Linear habitat
| Interventions

Large municipal landfills are a “new” feature of the landscape. Their artificial forms, created to obtain the highest storage capacity, are defined by superposed planes and steep slopes. Landfills are an unmistakable element of the contemporary landscape, whether they are found in valleys (terraces on slopes) or plains (stepped pyramids). The latter kind is far more noticeable since their silhouette rises from a flat environment and is visible from all sides.


Typically, once the landfilling process is complete, trivial greening operations are carried out on the external surfaces with the illusory aim of camouflaging the new hill. This is done by sowing herbaceous plants and sometimes planting sporadic groups of shrubs. In many cases, non-native species are also introduced with the justification that they hypothetically take root more easily.


The artwork concerned one of these landfills, the Case Passerini landfill, that has served the city of Florence and four of its neighbouring municipalities for the past few decades. The purpose of this work, which was commissioned by the landfill authority, was to insert this artificial “object” into the surrounding area in a completely different way from the usual interventions mentioned above. 

Firstly, the new hill with its stepped pyramidal shape, which has arisen in just a few years in the middle of the plain, is recognised as one of the most authentic and direct testimonies of our contemporary lifestyle. Therefore, the intervention has no intention of hiding this aspect and instead focuses on the ecological and aesthetic characterisation of the new hill’s surface, which became available at the end of the landfill’s existence as a dumping ground, when it was covered in good-quality soil. 


The key element of the design revolves around the choice of stone material. Piling the stones on the landfill surface without the use of mortar generated important shelters where faunal species, particularly those of small dimensions, can find refuge, as well as feeding, breeding and perching areas.

To perform these functions effectively, the mounds of stones had to be distributed at various points of the landfill mass. The aesthetic choice consisted in the design of a single long line that rises from the lowest level of the plain on the western side of the landfill towards the summit plateau of the hill. It is therefore a new line that cuts almost at right angles to the large steps.


This linear stone habitat corresponds to a projection on the landfill of the old course of the Acqualunga canal, which, as can be seen from old maps, flowed through the area before the landfill was built. Like all watercourses, the canal was used as a linear habitat by many aquatic species. The deviation of the canal allowed the landfill to be built, but the new conditions rendered the area inhospitable to any wild species. 

The route of this old canal has once again been drawn on the slope of the mount and transformed into a habitat of stones that species can colonise. Of course, they are no longer aquatic species, but species adapted to the rocky environment that has “suddenly” become available. 

Linear Habitat is an artwork made of juxtaposed stones, holes and countless fissures. It is a penetrable and habitable reality, capable of guaranteeing the permanence and safe passage of faunal species along the hill’s slopes (an “ecological corridor”).

The decision to place the stones in a linear shape also originated from the desire to highlight another important aspect: the old course of the Acqualunga canal marked the administrative boundary between the two municipalities of Campi Bisenzio and Sesto Fiorentino. Although the watercourse was diverged from its original path due to the building of the landfill, nowadays its old line still determines the administrative boundary of the two municipalities. 


The construction of a linear habitat with the function of an ecological corridor right along a political-administrative boundary (an element in itself devoid of any real environmental significance but loaded everywhere with political meaning and thus in history the scene par excellence of disputes, divisions and even fights and battles) is intended to be highly provocative. Indeed, this work emphasises the need to always conceive of the landscape as a unicum, a common heritage, indivisible and independent of political boundaries. It must always be interconnected to ensure the preservation of life.



Work Site



Carlo Scoccianti


Area of intervention

Case Passerini, Sesto Fiorentino (Florence).


Status before intervention

Landfill site no longer in use, consisting of a stepped hill covered with topsoil.


Type of intervention

The work was created by the linear stacking of about 300 tons of stones. The stone material used is typical of the hills surrounding the plain. The structure is 1 m high, 1.5 m wide at its base and 100 m long. 

On the inside, because of the steep slope of the landfill mass, a wide-mesh iron reinforcement was inserted every 6 m to prevent the stones from slipping. At the same time, these reinforcements allow the easy passage of species within the work.


Work status

Completed (October 2012).


Authorities/agencies involved

- Quadrifoglio S.p.A.

- Committee for the WWF Oases of the Florence area


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

- 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.

- Little owls (Athene noctua): refuge and perch.

- Passeriformes: perch.

- Micro-mammals: refuge.

- Hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus): refuge.