Thursday, January 24, 2013

Human | Urban | Nature

This set of photos explores the forms which exist along the boundaries between people and the non-human users of urban space. These forms can be designed or constructed, or they may arise naturally (pun intended) in the leftover spaces of the city. In each instance, constructed and natural spaces interface across boundaries that can be hard, soft, or layered.

Formal designs tend to use hard boundaries which strongly designate spaces as either natural or urbane, with the latter category reserved for human use. P-patches are examples of designed public spaces where the boundary between human and non-human use of space is layered: paths for people and patches for plants (photo 3); natural processes are modified and re-constructed in compost bins and rainwater cisterns (photo 5). These forms emphasize the priority of human users in space.

 On the other hand, unplanned forms arise in the leftover spaces of the city, where plant and animal life take hold in whatever locations offer the necessary resources (sun, water, substrate) (photos 6 and 7). While not directly regulated by design or planning, boundaries are defined by the existing conditions and the ability to survive and thrive. These boundaries can be intentional (photos 1 to 5) or unintentional (photos 6 to 8) 

Incorporating nature in the built city is increasingly a stated or implicit goal in many designs, projects and policies. City sharing in this sense is fundamentally about accomodating and prioritizing use of space by particular sets of human users. Incorporating environmental values and observing how all life takes advantage of opportunity simply widens the conception of how urban space is used to include all life.


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