UBC Graduate Research

A Darwinian City : decentering humans in architectural design in an evolving urban ecology Wen, Angela


Human activity and the creation of anthropocentric environments are undoubtedly the most significant catalysts for evolution on this planet today. Today, approximately 55% of the world's population, 4.2 billion inhabitants, live in cities, and this trend is predicted to increase to 70% by 2050. However, migrating to cities is not just exclusive to humans. This concrete jungle is home to a menagerie of creatures attracted to plentiful food and protection from hunting or other natural dangers. The study of urban evolution has rapidly become the frontier of biology and can help us understand how evolution in urban populations contributes to conserving sensitive ecosystems. The implications of this can help establish sustainable urban environments that will improve human health. Architects have a social responsibility to reflect this social shift in our designs to create harmony between nature and humans. This thesis looks at the built environment through the lens of nonhuman species as equal citizens. By anticipating the emergence of nonhuman citizens in the city, architecture can create a reconciliation of humans with nature. Located in the southeast corner of False Creek, Vancouver, an empty lot is earmarked for a multi-building development. This thesis is a critique of this master plan. Rather than the standard method of human-centred design, this project proposes a new ecocentric way to design this site. Its objective is to think of architecture on the farthest end of the human-nature spectrum: humans are participants with nature.

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