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Feature Article

At Loggerheads:

Conservationists in Dispute


The future of urban wildlife in the 21st century is open to extreme speculation and debate. For many architects and urban planners, the expansion of urban wildlife must be sculpted, staged, and optimised in line with the sustainable growth of our cities. This data-driven approach to urbanity has local and global politics, economics, and technology at its heart. And the urban landscape now beats rapidly to the pulse of commodity exchange. Gardens and parks have become commodified theatres of nature - and captivity is no longer confined to the pits and fences of zoos.

The captive cultivation of endemic and exotic species has a long and tumultuous past. But in the age of the anthropocene, where everything is controlled by us humans in one way or another, we must accept that our cities have become colossal zoos in their own right. The question of 'what is natural?' is becoming less relevant as we begin to ask:

what can be natural?

A healthy relationship between naturalists and designers will be imperative as we begin to compose the answer(s) to this question. But we must be creative and experimental if we are to avoid the traps of an urban ecology that is intrinsically tied to economics (i.e - green consumerism). Sustaining architecture in the face of 'sustainability' will be no small task for designers and naturalists alike. But this series, entitled 'East of Eden', aims to do just that. By focusing on the wildlife that thrives within our growing mega-cities; the project will serve as a retroactive manifesto for urban planning.

Seeking out both conscious and serendipitous designs that support cohabitation within our growing cities - the project aims to promote the growth of the urban landscape not with nature; but as nature.


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