Biodiversinesque

I enjoy making up new words. It’s an exploration of realms of meaning. A good new word is new territory accessible for other people too. I also like it when other people invent words. That’s why I’ll discuss Maria E. Ignatieva’s ‘Biodivesinesque’, to bring some light into this ‘blue monday’, as a marketeer once called it.

Ignatieva is a European (more or less) landscape architect focussing on urban ecology and design. In several articles, she notes that in the previous two centuries, two main styles have inaugurated globalized urban landscape design, meaning these styles were introduced in colonial territories. The first one was ‘picturesque’, a natural style in which parks look like deforested Western European landscapes, containing elements such as meandering roads and irregular terrains. Open grasslands are an iconic aspect of this style. The second one was ‘gardenesque’. This is a far more high maintenance, regular yet artistic way of designing landscapes, using a variety of exotic plant species and neatly cut hedges to convey a sense of human triumph over nature.

Biodiversinesque goes beyond both styles by integrating deeper understanding of the behaviour of natural environments into the design. The designer lets go of the imperative to imprint a thought upon the landscape. Instead, she or he shows appreciation for nature by taking vital characteristics such as ground water, local species and weather fluctuations into account during the design process. When working with nature, instead of over its back, areas have the potential to become far more biodiverse. This style allows for dynamics in vegetation patterns, since surprises are appreciated instead of being seen as messy and a lack of park management. Through biodiversinesque design, landscape architects can convey the beauty of ecological processes to the visitors of a park, while blending the urban landscape into the natural surroundings.

Reconnecting the urban ecosystem with the surrounding ones, a process that is advancing steadily in Europe, is a way to invite traditional flora and fauna back into the lives of city dwellers that may have forgotten about them. It is a public acknowledgement of the fact that not interfering can sometimes lead to better results than doing something. With her presence, nature gives us soft, subconscious education. By allowing nature back into our lives, we peacefully become it. All we essentially have to do is give it some space.

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