What would a city look like if it became a place that engaged all our senses, or a place for biodiversity or to create kai ?
The ‘Wild the City’ installation will inspire you to think about possibilities that could transform our cities’ green spaces, and about how we can create complex green spaces that encourage wildness in our cities.
Come and experience ‘Wild the City’, a visual and sound exhibit at Wall Street Mall in Dunedin.
The Wild the City concept aims to transform cities to provide:
- habitat for native birds and insects
- spaces for food production
- areas for unstructured, imaginative play
- There are so many opportunities for psychological, spiritual health benefits from experiencing nature in urban places.
Don’t miss this display 6-11 July, Wall Street mall. The Wild the City exhibit is part of the NZ Science Festival.
This poster was designed by Sophie Curtis & Jessie McKay. A big thanks to these graphic designers.
Click here to listen to Wild the City soundscape
As people tune into their iPods they tune out of nature - they don’t seem to care what is around them. Some city centres are dominated by the sound of cars- they are a hum of frenziness. When you are in these streets you are unable to hear little else. It is no wonder we attempt to block out all sound.
Joey Bania’s ‘Late Reflections’ blog focuses on the importance of sound. Joey discusses ‘Saving our Sounds‘ a website the BBC have set up ‘to raise awareness of acoustic ecology, soundscapes and the decline thereof’. He has also created a very cool soundscape highlighting the importance of sound and acoustic ecology- check it out.
In a previous post I have discussed the perception of safety, and I think it is important issue to discuss in greater depth.
Safety and feeling safe is important in a livable vibrant city. This feeling of being safe is perhaps a greater concern for females. I think I am far more vigilant and carefully considered in where I go than my male friends. How I move about spaces, what time I go running through a park or even what park I go to, are all considered to a greater degree as a female.
Different cities and also suburbs within the city have different level of aggression or perception of safety. When I move to a new town or city, I am constantly assessing the vibe and feel of the place, picking up any hints of aggression and assessing which areas/parks I feel comfortable in darkness or broad daylight. As you become familiar with place, you gain greater sense of safety but on the other hand, some areas or suburbs may remain to be considered ‘unsafe’.
Quality green spaces can offer little restoration experience if there is sense of unease or concerns for safety. In these fearful situations, moving or being in quality green spaces does not offer restoration, but demands attention. Peoples attention is spent assessing situations and possible responses and then the ramification for these possible responses.
Low socio economic areas in the middle of the city often have a high level of aggression. Research shows high temperature, noise and crowding leads to an increase in the level of aggression. Combined with the demands of living with little money, no financial security requires high levels of mental functioning and problem solving. There is risk for greater mental fatigue and fatigue related aggression in poverty inner city areas. This and other factors combined with the lack of accessible green spaces make it more difficult to recover from fatigue.
Cities and good urban design can mitigate this risk of aggression by providing accessible quality green spaces dispersed proportionally throughout the city. Studies show that people looking out onto green space/ nearby nature have a lower level of aggression than those who look out onto asphalt or other buildings. The reduction in aggression is not the only benefit of nearby nature, people have a greater ability to manage stressful life events, there is an increase in neighbour socialisation and restoration benefits can occur limiting fatigue.
A focus on providing nearby nature particularly in low socio economic areas may have huge benefits and could possibly reduce the level of aggression and improve other related actions like domestic violence. By greening these low socio economic areas they may become more desirable places to be and the perceived fear and the actual level of aggression will be reduced.
Forts, tree huts, witches dens and mud are all things that can make an exciting play space. Schools and day centres have a valuable role to provide quality green spaces that offer opportunities for imaginative creative play. Playgrounds with jungle gym, swings and sea saws that dictates ‘how to play’ are not suffice. Quality green spaces means areas of bush, large trees, sticks, stones and mud. These elements are often overlooked as vital play objects but they offer enriched diverse and dynamic play, where play is only bounded by the children’s own imagination.
There is an abundance of research showing the importance of unstructured play. Children function better when they play in green environments that captures their imagination. From unstructured play they can gain improved motor-coordination and risk taking skills.
It is also shown that play in quality green spaces decreases symptoms of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).
There are several schools that are noticeably leading the way whereby school grounds are developed to become quality green spaces. Meadowbank School situated in Auckland is successful and recognised enviro-education school that has an extensive green space. Students are encouraged to go and play and explore their wild area and it is also used as a resource for classroom learning.
While school grounds can be designed to offer natural elements suitable for play, it is essential for the school philosophy and rules to be aligned to promote enriched play. This means allowing and encouraging children to climb trees in schools and get children to recognise their own boundaries through play.
WildZones Toolkit shows you how to establish wild playable spaces.
We can all add complexity and create more attractive, livable spaces by looking at our backyards.
A multidisciplinary team of scientists from the University of Otago are working on an exciting project, assessing the effectiveness of gardens to increase biodiversity. This team comprises of an unusual and exciting combination of the natural and social sciences, involving scientists from the geography, psychology and ecology fields.
The scientists aim to find out what’s in the participants garden, identifying plant and animals species right down to the smallest of insects. They are surveying participant’s knowledge of wildlife, their ability to identify animals and native plants.
The study aims to find out what their garden means to them and what elements they value the most, by getting participants to take photos of their most attractive and valued elements. The participants knowledge of plant and animal species are assessed and used to examine if there is a connection between the knowledge of native plants and the percentage of native plants in their gardens.
This involves providing information about local native plants to participants and measure any change in values. The study considers the influence of other factors on the knowledge and values of the participants, taking socio-economic factors into account.
The results of this project will lead to greater understanding of gardens role in creating biodiversity, but also an insight into the relative health of Dunedin ecological habitat.
You can measure ecological health of your backyard by noting the presence of native birds, particularly any insectivore species such as fantails, our piwakawaka in your back garden. These species indicate your garden and surrounding area is relatively healthy.
A big thanks to Jessie McKay and Sophie Curtis, Department of Design Studies, University of Otago for designing the Wild the City logo.