This project comes to us from Seth Barnard, an architecture student at the Cooper Union. Seth’s project, as he states, asks the simple question “What if we introduced [or re-introduced] zoological/ entomological/ botanical specimens into our everyday lives?” And we totally agree with you Seth. What if? What if we had a greater awareness of the animals already around us? What if a greater diversity of animals could find a way back into our cities, or towns? In the nooks and crannies of a decaying metropolitan World Seth Muses about this “What if” question. In the Feral City coyote’s take over the Holland Tunnel, bats squat undisturbed in vacant apartment towers and insects build their own habitats. The images are stark, uncannily axonometric and, with the exception of a lone imprisoned beekeeper utterly devoid of Human presence — images of post-Katrina New Orleans, or present day Detroit come to mind. We are indeed led to imagine an oxymoronic urbanism, one without human presence — begging the question: does such a radically diverse ecology exist only in the absence of humans? We doubt this, and we believe Seth does as well. But you can judge for yourself – scroll down to check out Seth Barnard’s Feral City.
“As we are bound and confined by buildings, so are animals in a zoo. These scenarios propose a new kind of ecosystem that coagulates the Homo sapien environment with an that of an animal. Just as the settler builds on the west, the animal builds in the “Feral City”. The “Feral City” is a wild city. The plants, animals and insects proposed are merely meant to be catalysts of an emergent ecosystem of many more systems and organisms. These are theoretical proposals for a symbiotic relationship with organisms other than ourselves, inherently evolving/ changing.”
Above Image : Kudzu Cow Tenement. Using the invasive species “Kudzu” as a building material, the vine would create a canopy of greenery supported by a steel steel-cable tent structure. Temple Grandin’s curvilinear corral would be inserted into Manhattan’s rectilinear framework, serving as a mentally stable meandering path for cows to move.
Coyote Tunnel: Located in the “attic” of the Holland Tunnel, the ventilation path also serves as a migratory path for animals into and out of New York City. The coyote is specifically able to adapt itself to live in densely populated urban environments.
Bee Shelter: Beekeepers have been known to stack beehives in columns up to 15’ high. The beehive presents itself as a building module for many reasons. A wall of hives would be a wall of heat: bees maintain a constant temperature of 95° Fahrenheit year-round. Many dwellings throughout the world have learned to incorporate wall cavities specifically for beehives. The architecture of the hive does not end with the box itself, but expands its territory into the surrounding flora, which is symbiotic to the survival of the hive. Thus, the house is as much a flower as it is a hive.
Bat Tower: Feral Architecture proposes to reinvent the use of stagnant buildings. For example, the conditions of the Holland Tunnel ventilation building in Manhattan, NY are ideal for bats. The building contains a series of fans that push air into and out of the tunnel. This industrial building has no human inhabitation, ideal air humidity, ventilation, and architectural components for the bat (lack of windows, thin slats that serve as doors, and proximity to a water source). Bat tubes and slots would be inserted on the ceiling of the ventilation shafts. Funnels above the bat tubes collect water to maintain the ideal humidity. The guano from the bats would be used for the attraction of more bats, as a fertilizer for sidewalk vegetation, and collected as a source of phosphoric energy. Sidewalk lighting attracts nocturnal insects essential to the bat’s diet; lamps are bat buffets.
Aviary: Using existing tenement structures, the aviary is shrouded with a netting of the invasive plant species called kudzu. A series of cables would initially exist as a growing guide for the kudzu. Kudzu grows rapidly, over one foot a day, and would cover a tenement building in a year. Funnels sit in the net to capture and eject avifauna.
Arthopoda Zoo: A field array of animal architectures: termites, ants, beavers, bees, and spiders. This is a collective of constructors, a zoo in which the animals build for themselves.