Skjern River Restoration Counterfactual: Exploring a Palimpsestic Nature

Publikation: KonferencebidragKonferenceabstrakt til konferenceForskningpeer review


In 2003 the Skjern River Restoration Project in Denmark was awarded the prestigious Europa Nostra Prize for ‘conserving the European cultural heritage’ (Danish Nature Agency 2005). In this case, however, it seems that the conservation of one cultural heritage came at the expense of another cultural heritage. While the meanders of the Skjern River were reconstructed according to its assumed course in 1870s, the embanked canal, which was the main feature and symbol of a comprehensive cultivation project from the 1960s, was deconstructed and reduced to incomprehensible traces of the past. Not only did this massive reconstruction work, which involved moving more than 2,7 million cubic meters of earth, cause a lot of ‘dissonance’ among the local population, the resulting ‘nature’ and its dynamic processes are also constantly compromising the preferred image of the restored landscape (Clemmensen 2014).
The presentation offers insight into an on-going research and development project - Skjern River Restoration Counterfactual, which question existing trends and logics within nature restoration. The project explores how the Skjern River Delta could have been ‘restored’ with a greater sensibility for its cultural history and more openness towards constant change. In this approach the idea of palimpsest as metaphor for the cultural landscape plays an important role. Rather than being an obstacle for the restoration of nature, the historical layer following the comprehensive cultivation project from the 1960s is perceived as a catalyst for the development of nature. As such the idea of the palimpsest might bring a valuable openness into the field of nature restoration rendering sites of nature restoration less like museums and more like laboratories.


Clemmensen, T. J. (2014), ‘The Management of Dissonance in Nature Restoration’, Journal of Landscape Architecture 2/2014: 58-67.

Danish Nature Agency (2005), Skjern Å: Ådalens historie. De store projekter. Det nye landskab og naturen. På tur i ådalen [The Skjern River: The History of the River Delta. The Big Projects. The New Landscape and Nature. On Tour in the River Delta] (Copenhagen: Danish Ministry of the Environment).
Publikationsdato5 okt. 2014
StatusUdgivet - 5 okt. 2014
BegivenhedInjured Landscapes: Reuse and Recycle: UNISCAPE En-Route - Faculte Architecture Universite de Liège (ULG), Liège, Belgien
Varighed: 5 okt. 20148 okt. 2014


SeminarInjured Landscapes: Reuse and Recycle
LokationFaculte Architecture Universite de Liège (ULG)


  • Nature Restoration
  • Landscape Transformation
  • Palimpsest
  • Landscape Architecture

Kunstnerisk udviklingsvirksomhed (KUV)

  • Nej