Why we should build for wildlife as well as people
Those with similar views are now working to influence the world of architecture. Wolfgang Weisser of the Technical University of Munich heads a consultancy called Studio animal-assisted design, which aims to improve the biodiversity references of proposed buildings.
The company’s approach, which is still evolving, involves engaging the owners, residents or users of a planned building in a discussion about which local species they want to support in and around the property once it is built.
A project that Weisser and his colleagues were working on, now completed, is an apartment complex in Munich. There, the investor behind the building agreed to interventions such as woodpecker and bat boxes, a roof covered with plants and what Weisser calls ‘hedgehog drawers’ – small wooden boxes in which the spiny mammals can rest or hibernate. The drawers slide out of the outer wall for occasional maintenance.
“The basic idea is to make the animal a stakeholder in the building process,” explains Weisser.
Studio Animal-Aided Design is now working on more building plans with additional interventions for wild species, allowing them to thrive in tandem with humans.
One of the benefits of this could be more balanced ecosystems. Crane points out that it can be very beneficial for people to have bats nesting in your house or apartment building — because an entire colony of bats on summer evenings can do good to keep mosquitoes at bay.
“When people know how important it is to help nature, and how important nature is to us, we generally see that people are very eager to do something to help,” said Sue Young of The Wildlife Trusts.