What if cities are designed for and with nature: greening and biodiversity eco-practices in Kaunas and Amsterdam

Photo: Waag (BY-NC-ND)

Rapidly modernising cities often leave no room for natural ecosystems, creating egocentric rather than ecocentric infrastructures that are exclusively for the benefit of humans. The drastic loss of biodiversity is driven by both a physical and emotional distance between people and wildlife. 

As part of the T-Factor project, Kaunas and Amsterdam pilots are developing temporary activities aimed at fostering biodiversity in urban areas. On November 25, the T-Factor team organized a presentation of the eco-practices launched by these two pilots during the last months, as an example of urban regenerative practices that put greening and biodiversity at the very centre of principles and qualities of sustainability, liveability and wellbeing in cities, for both people and other forms of living. 

Biodivercities Workshop in Kaunas

On October 2022, DesignFriends, Kaunas Fortress Park, VDU Botanical Garden, KTU Design Centre, DesignLibrary Kaunas organized a workshop at the Aleksotas Innovation Industrial Park (AIIP) aimed at implementing innovative methods of urban regeneration using wild insect housing structures.

The workshop was based on a DIY toolkit designed by Justė Motuzaitė (Integrated Product Design master student at Delft University of Technology). This tool is made of two parts, an insect hotel for cavity-nesting bees and other insects, and a ground unit structure for ground-nesting bees and other insects.

During the workshop, the participants used design thinking principles and personal experiences to improve the tool kit design and, in the last part of the workshop, the teams installed seven insect hotels and ground units for bees on Lakūnai garden, at Kaunas Fortress Park. When creating and installing the kits, the participants were encouraged to pay attention to not only a specific place suitable for their construction, but also to the surrounding environment: nearby sources of materials suitable for nutrition and nest construction, the integrity of green areas in the territory and their diversity.

After this phase, the next goal of Biodivercities project is to publish a website to openly disseminate the tools, processes and learnings. The aim of this project is to raise awareness of the importance of wild insects in maintaining biodiversity, to encourage citizens to create urban wild spots and to educate about the co-benefits of human-wildlife interconnection.

ecopractices at Amsterdam Science Park, waag

Urban Ecology Lab at Amsterdam Science Park

The T-Factor pilot at the Amsterdam Science Park is focused on exploring temporary uses to ‘renew the fundamental relationship between nature and humans in cities, as a way to contribute to the path towards sustainability’. 

This “nature-driven regeneration” strategy includes a program of Do-It-Together eco-practices and temporary initiatives that leverage arts practices to understand the living environment at Amsterdam Science Park, engaging different communities.

These practices include, among others:

Animal oriented design,  a programme of talks and workshops  to explore different aspects of animal-aided design starting from theory towards putting it in (artistic) practice to enrich the local biodiversity. 

Building messy corners, an outdoor workshop aimed at exploring ways in which new habitats for urban wildlife can be created (messy corners), including through the use of organic and non-organic waste. 

Urban Ecology Table, gathering ecology and biodiversity researchers from different universities to discuss the concept of urban ecology from civic and artistic perspectives.

Biodiversity Walk,  a session dedicated to urban biodiversity and to understand the tensions between urban development and biodiversity at the ASP.

Deep Ecology module, lectures with different experts to explore the concept of “deep ecology” from philosophical, scientific and artistic perspectives.

The design and implementation of these eco-practices are focused on a set principles:

  • Local and small scale.
  • Practice-based.
  • Relational.
  • Open-ended.
  • Regenerative.
  • Sensory – subjective experiences.
  • Artistic focus.

 

Watch the video to learn more about the Biodivercities workshop in Kaunas and the eco-practices of the Urban Ecology Lab in Amsterdam Science Park: