The L.A. River: A Monument of Ordering Nature

Nonument! Symposium Ljubljana

Jorg Sieweke

The steep and short alluvial Los Angeles River (aka. wash) seasonally meandered freely across the flood plain. After a great storm flooded one-third of the city of Los Angeles in March 1938, the Army Corps of Engineers began the 20-year Public Works Project, creating the permanent concrete channel which confines the riverbed to this day. The former right of way of the River has been designated as a NO TRESPASSING territory due to its mono-functional designation as a seasonal flood channel – even if utilized only for a few days each year. Since 2013, sections of the L.A. River have become legal for public access again. A citizen driven movement has opened up the realm of the river by breaking the law and trespassing. The paper explores the ambiguous circumstances of trespassing relative to human and environmental health, urban hygiene and self-determination as a broader health concept of unimpaired human existence.

Watch the video of Jorg Sieweke’s lecture at the 2018 Nonument! symposium.

Jorg Sieweke is a licensed landscape architect and urban designer conducting an award-winning practice in Berlin since 2001. He attained a PhD from TU Berlin in 2015, outlining the principles of design and nature in a critical review of design projects. Sieweke served as faculty member at University of Virginia (2009-2016) and held Visiting Professorships at RWTH, Aachen (2012-14) and HCU Hamburg (2014/15). He also taught at TU Berlin and TU Dresden as well as Art Academies in Stuttgart and Berlin. Sieweke currently works as an advisor and consultant for urban and landscape development.