By Wolfgang Weisser, Michael Hensel, Shany Barath, Victoria Culshaw, Yasha Grobman, Thomas Hauck, Jens Joschinski, Ferdinand Ludwig, Anne Mimet, Katia Perini, Enrica Roccotiello, Michael Schloter, Assaf Shwartz, Defne Sunguroğlu Hensel, and Verena Vogler.
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Urban biodiversity has a variety of positive effects to humans. Unfortunately, in our cities, biodiversity is decreasing, resulting in their citizens having less contact with nature. In this paper, we look at ways to increase biodiversity in cities. We do this by focusing on how architecture can play a critical role in increasing urban biodiversity by influencing how our cities are constructed. Unfortunately, current architectural methods have little consideration to biodiversity in their design.
In this paper, we argue that increasing urban biodiversity needs to become a key element of architectural design. We discuss that this requires architecture to not just focus on the needs of humans, but also on the needs of other life, such as plants and animals. We refer to this as multi-species design and describe the challenges that multi-species design presents to both ecology and architecture. We also show that multi-species design goes beyond existing approaches in architecture and ecology. We propose that a first step for multi-species design is the creation of buildings with a new type of façade, which we refer to as an ‘ecolope’, which we define as an ecological envelope that provides a habitat for different organisms: humans, but also plants, animals and even microbes. We then describe how architects and ecologists could design such an ecolope using knowledge from ecology and architecture, and using computational design to create workflows that enable teams of architects and ecologists to collaborate on such a multi-species habitat.
This approach is important because buildings designed for humans, microbes, plants and animals can increase biodiversity in cities and also increase the benefits that humans derive from close proximity to nature.