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Control in Nature in Urban Environment






Alice Bell


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With the modern world growing at such a pace, the ever increasing need for space is turning out to be a major area for concern. Urbanisation, amongst other things, is ultimately leading to the loss of the natural landscape of our world, and nature is rapidly disappearing from everyday life. It seems that people no longer see the value in these so called “wild areas”, but rather they now merely see an opportunity for the construction of yet another industrial looking, high rise building. Why have the vast majority of entire communities lost the wonder of nature? Why do people disregard it as being something which they can learn nothing from? What I would to aruge/ suggest – With the endorsement of neat, pretty looking gardens, that have a tidy fence or wall carefully plotted around them to enclose this small pocket of tamed wilderness in an attempt to contain it from escaping out into the streets and taking over the nature sterile city streets. It’s almost as though society have a desire to keep the beauty of wilderness captive, and hidden from plain view. Land use is central to the landscape around you (olivias quote), {{and it is increasingly being used in such a way that it is no longer acceptable for beauty to be found in the rugged as nature often presents itself, but only in the neat and the pristine.}} One of the most common instances of this need for wildness to be controlled can be seen in how grass is dealt with. Within every urban area or City across the world there is an ever present battle, a conflict between humans, grass and the need to keep these two wild forms separated – as the philosopher blah say ‘we may acknowledge, intellectually, our body’s reliance upon those plants and animals that we consume as nourishment, yet the civilized mind still feels itself somehow separate, autonomous, independent of the body and of all bodily nature in general.’


Ontological Design is recognising that design shapes the world that we live in and as a response, the world designs us back.


design of a way of being, whether we notice or not everything that is designed is in turn actively designing back, therefore in terms of city planning, architectural design – if nature is excluded from these spaces it will no longer be engrained in human life that as something which is needed.

  • Every design choice which is made has a direct impact on those using it, in urban areas because the population density is so much larger than in rural areas more people are influenced so effectively the decisions made in these areas could not be any more important.
  • There is such a huge opportunity or rather responsibility to change the mind-set of whole communities, towards nature in these densely populated areas.
  • How can we design certain features out of this world and implement certain values into our society again? Is there a need to challenge the perception we have towards the materials and objects around us? Do we need to rethink of the definition of objects and materials around us?


The philosopher Tim Ingold is of the opinion that every object is a ‘thing’, with a life of its own. That nothing can be completely singular, everything interacts with everything else in some way; so much so that even a house cannot truly be a house without the influence of nature, he refers to the words of the renowned Portuguese Architect Alvaro Siza who admitted ‘he has never been able to build a real house… by which he means ‘ a complicated machine in which every day something breaks  down ‘ (Siza 1997: 47) Ingold, T(2013) Making. It can be said that it is all the interactions that occur in a house that makes the house a house, the human to human interactions as well as the non-human interactions in the terms of Heidegger they ‘participate with the things in its thinging .’ Ingold lists several examples of these non-human interactions ‘ Rainwater drips through the roof where the wind has blown of a tile, feeding fungal growth that threatens to decompose the timbers, the gutters are full of rotten leaves ‘ … a real house is the ‘gathering of lives’. The modern residences being built now simply do not allow for this leaking in of nature, it imposes strict boundaries between the human and non-human – it is just not socially acceptable for such things to reside together , nature is simply not considered to be clean enough for the sterile surfaces.

When nature inevitably leaks and bleed into the urban house, it is not seen as a complimentary or ideal feature, it is seen as something that needs to be removed or separated. The house is not given the right to embrace the life around it, it is not allowed to freely live in the ‘worlding world’.


Another connection which can be made to this issue are the ideas of the Japanese culture in the form of Wabi Sabi art, which is typically described as being seen as flawed beauty. In that just because something is out of proportion or damaged does not mean it is broken. Wabi Sabi is not about striving for perfection, as it diminishes the whole notion of perfection. Directly contrasting the scenes we see in many modern buildings and interiors where every aspect must conform to a more ridged system of clean lines, with an almost clinical standard of cleanliness to every finish – and a complete absence to the human eye of non-human habitation. If ideas of Wabi Sabi could be adapted to urban architecture there would be more room for non-human interaction.










Current urban landscapes are essentially lying to us in what form of nature they do provide in Cities, the synthetic notion of wildness that governments impose apoun us under the heading of ‘Green Spaces’









Author: Alice Bell

Fine Art Photographer currently based in Cardiff Experience in Wedding, Product, Lifestyle and Event photography - for enquires

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