Cathel de Lima Hutchison

Towards multispecies urbanism: Negotiating wildlife and biodiversity in design practice

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Cities contain a diversity of wildlife and ecosystems beyond just humans, roads and buildings. This makes them multispecies habitats. However, historically, and particularly with regards to recent history, little of this fact can be attributed to an inclusive approach to integrating nature within the formal design and development of urban settings. Indeed, more conscious design effort has gone into controlling and eradicating wildlife and biodiversity, than accommodating them. Now, with urbanisation and urban lifestyles increasingly acknowledged as central protagonists in the worsening and interconnected ecological and climate crises, it is more important than ever to consider cities can embody and promote more balanced and even reciprocal relationships with nature.  

My research explores how we can promote a more multispecies approach to urban design, in ways that benefit wildlife and biodiversity and human-wildlife relations. To do so, I have undertaken interviews with a range of experts operating at the interface of urban ecology and design – ecologists, artists, architects, and planners – to distil key principles for implementing and supporting pro-wildlife design, as well as critical constraints and barriers. I have also completed case studies of green infrastructure projects, to look at how wildlife and biodiversity are negotiated in design practice and performance. In this I take on board both internal logics articulated by project actors often committed to varying degrees to achieving biodiversity gains amongst competing objectives and various constraints, often temporal and financial; and external logics, situating the projects within the broader context of evolving urban dynamics, particularly climate change and its disruptive implications for human-wildlife spatial relations.    

Names of Supervisors: Dr Husam Alwaer