Public Housing for Animals

Monday, June 08, 2009

Determined to bring nature back into the urban environment, the city of Leeds in the United Kingdom sponsored a design competition to find new ways of creating habitat for birds and small animals. The winner of the competition devised towers made from recycled materials that could house nests as well as plant life supporting butterflies and other insects along the canal that runs through Leeds.

Neil Oxlee, 26, who created the design with the help of Garnett Netherwood Architects, says his “man-made trees” would allow different species to live together, including foxes, like they would in a woodland environment—although he admits he will need the expertise of biologists to make sure inhabitants don’t eat one another. The idea of constructing towers was inspired by three Italianate towers in Leeds that are 200 years old and stand 80 feet in height.
The design competition, run by the business community Holbeck Urban Village, received entries from 30 participants. Organizers said they launched the effort to help bring song birds and other wildlife back into British towns and cities that have lost many of their species over the years. House sparrows have reportedly declined more than 60% since the early 1980s, and there are only 56 butterfly species remaining in all of Britain.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Can Animals Live in High-rise Blocks? (by Peter Jackson, BBC News Magazine)


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