BIODIVERSITY AND ARCHITECTURE
We’ve entered the Anthropocene, an era that is witnessing the greatest biodiversity loss since the Dinosaurs era, some 65 million years ago. Species extinction, according to the Global Environment Outlook, is occurring 100 times faster than the natural rate. It is expected to accelerate anywhere from 1,000 to 10,000 in the coming decades (UNEP, 2007). A major study conducted by IUCN in 2016 looked at 52,017 species and found that 18,788 of them (36%) face extinction. Of the world’s 5,491 mammal species, 78 are now extinct in the wild, and 728 are endangered. Of the world’s 6,285 amphibian species, 1,895 are at risk of extinction. Of the world’s 9,865 bird species, 12% are now considered threatened, with 192 species, or 2%, facing an “extremely high risk” of extinction in the wild (BirdLife International, 2009).
Alteration of the species’ habitats by humans is largely causing this biodiversity loss including land-use transformation, pollution, overexploitation of resources, and growth of human settlements. The current dialogue on sustainability or sustainable design is also fundamentally anthropocentric, and therefore, doesn’t integrate species beyond humans. Dr. Brian Edwards, in the article, “Biodiversity: the new challenge for architecture,” acknowledges this critical problem. Green Building movement that started in the 1970s has evolved extensively with numerous certifications. Still, today, the criteria for biodiversity conservation has been marginally addressed.
What will you learn from this workshop?
Within this context, it is essential to understand the role of architecture and design in biodiversity conservation. How do we build a new form of architecture that considers all living beings as equal stakeholders/ users of the spaces. In this workshop, we will shift this anthropocentric frame of reference and try to imagine what it would be like to become one of the species, a bird. How would it feel to touch, feel, smell like a bird? What other senses would they use to navigate and move through space?
And once we possess this in-depth knowledge, how do we spatially articulate the experience of being a bird? Can we create a trail with interpretation point(s) to materialize this experience? How do we use architecture as a platform to connect people with birds? And more importantly through the exercise begin to envision ways in which architecture can become a framework to support both human and non-human species habitats.
Who can participate?
Architects, educators, alternative learning schools, natural and social scientists, biodiversity experts, design students. Workshop intake is 20 participants.
About the mentors:
The instructor, Priyanka Bista, has explored these questions through KTK-BELT studio by engaging marginalized populations living within a biodiversity-rich corridor of the Eastern Region of Nepal. The ‘Vertical University’ project has been conceived as a framework to teach and conserve biodiversity, vital habitat, and indigenous knowledge found along an 8,000-meter vertical gradient in eastern Nepal spanning from the lowest plains, Koshi Tappu (229 ft), to the third tallest peak in the world, Mt. Kanchenjunga (28,000 ft).