Footprint recently visited Arup’s Animal Estates HQ for discussions on bats and green roofs chaired by ecologist Gary Grant. The audience was surrounded by the latest in animal architecture, from an insect hotel to bat bricks and bee houses. Animal Estates poses the question devised by artist Fritz Haeg: what if animals were clients in the building process?
Kelly Gunnell from the Bat Conservation Trust discussed the requirements of the bat client. As excellent indicators of biodiversity, bats are a great starting point for encouraging diverse habitats. When designing for bats, it’s important to analyse connections between neighbouring areas of biodiversity. Bats need a suitable roost, but also good commuting routes to foraging sites. Biodiversity requires a consideration not just of individual buildings, but of urban landscapes, connections and networks.
In fact, carefully designed co-habitation between people and animals can help aid urban regeneration. Kelly Gunnell discussed a successful example of this in Austin, Texas. Here, bats appropriated an existing bridge structure and became a spectacle that revitalised the surrounding public space. ‘Add-on’ bird boxes can be beautiful, but urban biodiversity can also capture the architectural imagination on a larger scale. Recognising animals as clients in our urban environments can introduce a rich diversity that benefits people, too.
The exhibition and upcoming workshops are free and open to the public until January 20th. More details here.
By Tierney Lovell, past AJ sustainability intern.
Filed under: Green blog