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As global urbanisation has proceeded over recent decades, human beings have become increasingly removed from nature. At the same time, we remain as dependent on it as ever for our primary needs. To an increasing degree, cities are tasking organic, biological systems with supporting their industrial systems. Unless the relationship between “nature” and human-organised systems is improved, energy, water and food supplies will be placed under pressure.
Nature & Spatial Design turns the spotlight on the work of a growing group of spatial designers who integrate natural processes into their designs in novel ways. Their work at the intersection of biology and design gives rise to new aesthetic possibilities and offers targeted solutions to social problems. Using 10 example projects, the research team of Het Nieuwe Instituut is surveying organic design practice and evaluating its applicability. The projects range from the harvesting of solar power through the integration of microalgae in building fronts to an alternative dyke design in which the expansion of natural mudflats contributes to both dyke reinforcement and nature rehabilitation. This study brings together the expertise of ecologists, architects, urban planners and landscape architects. What will be required of spatial designers once the shift under way is a fait accompli? And how can they speed the process of building a satisfactory dialogue between human beings and nature? Through expanding this area of knowledge, Het Nieuwe Instituut seeks to strengthen and stimulate this cross-disciplinary design practice.
The results of this study of examples of so-called nature-inclusive design practice will be published in a folder on this page at the conclusion of the project.
A new way to engage with nature
This project is being carried out on behalf of the Netherlands Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment as part of the government’s 2013–2016 architecture and spatial design programme, ActieAgenda Architectuur en Ruimtelijk Ontwerp (AAARO - in Dutch). Het Nieuwe Instituut’s project Water & Urban Development, on climate-adaptive design, comprises part of the same programme. Through these two projects, Het Nieuwe Instituut proposes a new way for the design field to engage with nature. The effects of climate change and the growing scarcity of resources necessitate this new approach, which will also improve the quality of life in urban areas.