It took me a while to navigate where I wanted this project to land. I wanted to research why humans have created cities that neglect animals. Why do we not want to coexist with animals in cities like London? And what animals had survived in urban areas? I thought of many aspects and ideas around this theme, here are some of them:
BUTTERFLY TRASH CAN:
I wanted to make a compost trashcan for kids. As kids are the future, I thought the best approach would be to connect urban children (that are removed from nature) to some elements of nature. I wondered what animal is "accepted" by humans, ane often it is the aesthetic ones that escape our iron fist; swans, dogs, koi fish, peacocks...and butterflies. My idea was to make some kids-friendly sculptures trashcans around London, that kids could enter and dispose of their compost. This compost would then be made into the dirt, and then to plants that butterflies love (common nettles), and then to butterflies (peacock butterfly would be best suited for this). The idea was to influence kids so they could follow this magical metamorphosis that they took part in, and teach them to appreciate animals in urban areas.
I figured it was only a few ways a living non-human could survive in the city, either it was somehow precious to us, like swans and dogs, it was helpful in some way like the pigs were in the 18th century, or we couldn't see it, like rats (side fact: we are never less than 14 feet away from a rat in London.) and microorganisms. I started thinking if we could mine microorganisms to do something helpful for the city, like create more CO2 for example, surely we urban citizens would let it be. I started researching microorganisms and bought a cheap microscope at the science museum. I took it out and collected some cyanobacteria at Regents Park. It was fascinating and wonderful to discover all the microbes that existed in this little drop of water. In my research, I found that cyanobacteria could do many wonderful things, and I started thinking about how it could be implemented in the city. What if I make large sculptures, and filled them with cyanobacteria. Or create tiles to fasten outside large skyscrapers. There were many applications I thought of until I dug a bit deeper and found out that when cyanobacteria bloom, they release toxins that are not good for humans. Just a day after this discovery I attended the Design Museum talk, and almost the same exact vision I had about cyanobacterial architecture, was presented by EcoLogicStudio. I asked them how they kept the cyanobacteria from blooming, and they didn't give me a clear answer, just that it was possible (perhaps it's a trade secret?)
GOOGLE PIG STY:
We are living in extraordinary times, in London, during covid. Office buildings stood empty. Google had just announced that they would not invite any employees back to their offices before summer 2021. What an opportunity for animals to take back the city! As an activism design/performance art, I wanted to invite pigs to have a temporary home in the large glass towers Google has all over the city.
An early idea that I wanted to make for the squirrels, was to create a new skyscraper for London. Not only because London really needs some good modern architecture (seriously, the walkie talkie?), but also because I wanted to see if I could recreate the idea of the most urban artefact to become both a place for men in suits....and squirrels. I thought perhaps it would be too ambitious to actually draw up a new skyscraper for London, nevertheless a skyscraper that would be home to both humans and animals, but when I saw Norman Foster's suggestion for the new "Tulip Tower" (don't google it), I figured London really need some help making a beautiful skyline.