Option Studio: Building an Urban Forest
Instructor: Christine Yogiaman
Cultural imagery of bees conjures our association of the species as unfriendly honey-making hive-nesting creatures that swarm and attack people with their stingers. This misrepresentation is detrimental to the resilience of our urban and natural ecosystems. More than labelling bees as unwelcome pests, the crisis may result from the lack of public advocates to conserve natural bee habitats at the pressures of rapid urban development.
Research on urban wildlife points to finite food source as the single most limiting factor in expanding urban biodiversity. Bees are one of the smallest denominators life-forms, a close bottom of the food chain. They provide an invaluable ecological service which helps the forest biodiversity to thrive through the pollination of flowers which in turn produce fruits for other species to enjoy and are themselves food source to other animal species.
Building on Alexander Woodlands, we envision an urban infrastructure that accelerate bee population growth. This infrastructure augment existing natural systems to supply consistent flow of nutrient enriched water for flowering plant cultivation and aligns human activities to provide the logistical operations that enable the intensification of blooming periods. This supercharged, ultra-dense haven for bees would create a new form urban forest with diversity and intensity not possible without such artificial scaffolding.
Site Mapping and Human-Ecological Processes
In our initial mapping, we had to understand from the perspective of bees as well as flora which are the bee’s primary food source. Thus, we mapped out water runoff, sunlight, and possible bee movement in the first site map by our understanding of where plants were denser at as well as bee’s behaviour to avoid buildings but rather use them as waypoints. We then located 2 extreme points of dry soil and semi-shaded secondary forest as well as moist soil, full sun open ground which we would use in our later planning to create an urban scaffold for plant growth.
Secondly, we also studied the various blooming periods and create a suitable flower palette for the bees in Alexandra Woodlands. We also mapped out the social types of bees and created a human-ecology diagram between humans, plants and bees where humans which would encourage the education and horticulture practices of the proliferation of biodiversity in the area.
Network and Path Generation
We thus moved on to use a grasshopper plugin that would create a shortest path of both sunlight and water by first creating a network and then a desired path from which it would select by in the network. This is done both in 2D (landscape) and 3D (building massing) which would create spaces and routes for the landscaping folds to take place and tunnels throughout the building which would serve as flora tunnels for bees to travel through.
Process Diagrams and Planting Strategy
(click to enlarge)
Process diagrams of folding tactics for the folding of landscape as well as planting strategy arranging from either shortest to tallest in height or blooming periods.
Speculative Perspective and Final Mapping
Speculative perspective renders as well as the final mapping to show both the building and landscaping tactics to provide for this urban scaffolding that allows for plant proliferation and hence bee proliferation throughout the larger area of the site while concentrating human activity in the smaller untouched area of Alexandra Woodlands. It shows the flower palette as well used for the entire landscaping which connects the flora tunnels of the buildings, integrating ecology into the proposed building.