Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London | School of Architecture and Cities, University of Westminster
How little can we design systems to design systemic—landscape—architectures? Do we need to map the system at all? Which media are most useful?
An analysis of the tools used by (re)wilding practices, here called feraling, reveals a mode of design that co-creates with existing socio-ecosystems and species. All these practices delegate part of the decisions to the emergence of ecosystems and species, as well as work with the knowledge embedded within them. They firstly let ecosystems be so that they can emerge, diversify and provide ecosystem services. Some control is present but to steer the evolution. Often, they use species to guide this systemic evolution—seeding, creating fear, and killing as needed. They time actions precisely around regular monitoring.
Each of these five tools of feral practices uses a broad range of leverage points assembled in dynamic constellations. Systems are conceived in multiple ways, primarily as living organisms, ideally working in harmony or at least towards common goals. But sometimes, they are simplified as machines and/or abstracted into categories to allow conceptualisation.
An impressive level of trust in the systems is displayed. This is a refreshing and optimistic approach in our anxious times, weighed down by the weight of responsibilities to alleviate climate change and reduce the collapse in biodiversity that we—humans—both create. These practices seem to show that we need to co-create more with the ecosystems we are nested within, delegate to them what they can do, and learn to let them be. And this requires us to simultaneously relax our desire for control and engage closely with the processes live, as well as accept our role as meta-apex-predator.
KEYWORDS: systemic design, regenerative design, rewilding, architecture, co-creation