What will Warsaw look like following the end of its Zoo? Will animals become equal inhabitants of the city, will deer eat plants from balconies, and foxes and elks walk freely in the parks? Where will weasels, wild boars, and owls live? One of the many challenges posed by the climate catastrophe is the need to redefine our relationship with nature, getting closer to nature. Habitat Warsaw is a long-term, speculative project dedicated to the city of the future understood as an ecosystem inhabited by both human and non-human species. The co-authors of the project are Małgorzata Kuciewicz and Simon De Iacobis from Centrala design group and Natalia Budnik, landscape architect.
The starting point of the project is seeing in the zoo a possibility for change, thanks to which the city could become a space for new relationships between people, fauna, and flora. In such a city, humans would lose their dominant position; animals wouldn’t be domesticated pets or entertainers in a circus, but rather full-fledged co-inhabitants of urban space. The zoo would ceases to serve as an exhibition space but rather a place that could host where free-living urban animals.
How can we design a space that can be a home to both humans and wild and tame species? In order to formulate the concept of Habitat Warsaw, we propose three different perspectives. First, replacing the visual perception of space with multi-sensory perception, taking into account aspects such as smell and the texture of buildings. Second, considering the issue of the migration of animals into, and within, the city. Third, directing our attention towards the spaces and habitats where non-human Warsaw residents live.
In the first year of the project, we will hold an online symposium. Conversations with specialists from various fields will help us develop interdisciplinary solutions regarding how we can, together, organise a city where we will live alongside animals. We are also planning an open seminar, during which our proposed solutions for Warsaw will be discussed in an international context. At a later stage, the project will include the development of a specific architectural proposal and an attempt to implement it in an elected, small space outside the walls of the Ujazdowski Castle.
- Anna Czaban, Anna Ptak