Surviving the Urban Jungle

9 03 2011

By Harvé Dhillon

Whilst I was bored and attempting to read, I came across an interesting documentary which presents a quite fundamental but usually forgotten issue for urban designers and planners. Human Planet, looks at ‘Surviving the Urban Jungle’ on BBC iPlayer. The documentary looks at how we as humans in cities today cope with animals that can be nuisances and create particular problems in our urban environments. This is an increasingly important as more than half the world’s population now live in cities and suggests that there is a battle to survive between humans and animals in cities.

What is striking is that in a contemporary city like Dubai there is a major issue of pigeon’s excrement ruining important historical buildings. Despite having visited Dubai several times I have not been aware of such issues. Even more interesting is the methodology used as a solution to these problems which I am sure you all will find intriguing. This opens a wide scope for discussion and a platform in able to solve such issues in the near future as designers. Another interesting aspect was that New York’s skyscraper rooftops are being utilised as urban gardens for beekeeping, although until 2010, this was banned. The idea of urban gardens and sustainable food production is one of the many possibilities for our future communities.

I think this is something that I personally have not given much thought, but maybe beneficial in our Sustainable Communities Module and also for those who are thinking of looking at ecological management, conservation and preservation for their thesis topics. To watch click on the link below!




2 responses

7 04 2011
Carlie Douglas

I find this really interesting, and incredible relevant to us as students of urban design. In Chicago, we had a huge pigeon problem especially at the ‘L’ stations. The CTA’s way of dealing with it was to place these horrible needle-like metal things on any horizontal surface (except the platform itself). It stopped the pigeons from landing and pooping all over everything, but was a hideous solution. These issues of human-animal interaction in urban areas really need to be thought of and planned for through design so that solutions for keeping humans and animals separate, or harmoniously interacting, are not an eye-sore on the built environment.

2 06 2011

Harve, this was an interesting post. Great to hear that they are making use out of the nuisances’ excrement. Personally, I am not the biggest fan of the ‘pigeon’ variety. In fact, I have a slight phobia of anything that flies (probably due to my friend setting her horrible budgies on me every time I visited her house when I was younger). Luckily for me, Newcastle doesn’t seem to have that many pigeons? Definitely nothing compared to the likes of London, those pigeons are lethal! One thing Newcastle does have its fair share of though is Sea Gulls. I swear they have some kind of magnetic pull to our house in Jesmond. As the weather has improved recently I have spent the odd afternoon gardening. This is a new thing for me, I definitely don’t have the greenest fingers in the world, but I do find it very therapeutic (something we could all do with on this course!). However, one thing that never fails to disturb my relaxed gardening aura is the presence of a flock of sea gulls flying frantically overhead before bashing down noisily onto the roof and staring me dead in the eye. Maybe I should start harvesting their faeces in order to get something good out of the terribly annoying Omni-present creatures!

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