The wild city


There is a growing sense that urban spaces are becoming biodiversity hotspots. Through popular publications and films, such as recently ‘De Wilde Stad’, the public has started to warm up to the idea that metropolitan areas are also natural areas and that wild animals and natures are not necessarily out of place in the city. In urban planning and design however, ‘nature’ still mostly features as ‘green space’ forhumans. Parks, water and trees are valued for their aesthetic qualities or for providing ‘ecosystem services’ to us. The idea that urban ecologies can be valuable in themselves, and that animals too are rightful inhabitants of cities generates a range of questions for planners and landscape architects. What happens if we take animals seriously as city dwellers, as users of the infrastructures we design? In what ways could design interventions help us to live together, and somehow appreciate each other’s presence?

On this route we will go on an urban wildlife safari, seeking to gain the perspectives of both human and nonhuman inhabitants on city life, and how to live together. We will try to get a sense of wild animal presence without dismissing the role of humans and human activities as necessarily negative for their wildness.

Key questions to be addressed on this route

  1. How do wild animals figure in urban spaces, and how do human inhabitants experience their presence? When do we ignore them, when are we enchanted by their charismatic presence, when are they a nuisance or even a pest? Is it the behaviour of animals that gives rise to these different experiences, or rather the behaviour of humans?
  2. What attempts have been made to foster the presence of animals? And what types of material interventions could help us cohabit in ways that are mutually beneficial?
  3. Could we develop design principles to foster the presence of animals and promote meaningful relations between humans and animals?

Nodes on the route for the time being

– Artis

– Various sites with conspicuous or hidden presence of urban wildlife

– Amstelpark – Zone2Source

Msc atlier project link
Animal city: planning and design for wild ‘Amsterdammers’ – Houthavens