Joanne Li


Ovis Versatilis: Icelandic Sheep Farm as Land Art Museum and Evolution Lab

Advised by Sergio Lopez-Pineiro

This thesis explores the role of evolutionary biology in landscape architecture, examining designed landscapes as potential drivers for species evolution. It argues that any landscape design makes direct and immediate impacts on the fitness level of the inhabiting species. Therefore, landscape designs need to consider evolutionary consequences at longer time scales. The proposal focuses on the evolution of Icelandic sheep (Ovis aries) and designs a sheep farm network that serves as a land art museum and evolution lab in a northern Icelandic valley. The farm consists of an assemblage of land art works with farming and lab infrastructures designed for sustainable sheep farming, ecological restoration, and sublime visiting experience. The purpose is to create resilient sheep herds (Ovis versatilis, the fictional Latin name for the new sheep species) and revive the sheep farming industry, while generating an iconic cultural landscape that celebrates the cultural, economic, and ecological sheep farming traditions of Iceland. 

A landform pasture with sheep grazing on it situated in the middle of Icelandic valley.

Genetic mapping of the Icelandic sheep herd grazing on the landform pasture.

Geometric analysis and planting palette of the landform pasture.

Operation steps, weight assessment, and sheep grouping on the landform pasture.

A collection of images of the Icelandic sheep landform pastures.