Future Green Studio

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Using environmental aesthetics and ecology principles to value weeds in urban environments


Future Green Studio continues to research Spontaneous Urban Plants with Pratt research fellow Marcel Negret. The weed value matrix, which stems from David Seiter’s project in the Gowanus and the D3 Natural systems competition last year, establishes a framework that integrates cultural and performative significance in urban environments.

The ongoing research by Future Green Studio integrates principles from urban ecology and environmental aesthetics, allowing for an unbiased debate on Wild Urban Plants. From an ecological perspective it is crucial to understand plant characteristics, their interaction with the environment, and equally considering both the services and disservices they provide. (Del Tredici 2010 - McPherson 2012) Large cities, culturally diverse and rich, are constantly shifting with complexities unmatched by other environments; anthropogenic emissions and the continual disturbance of the earth’s surface with the constant renewal of the built environment are reason enough for us to reconsider the role of the weed in these disturbed, and to most other plants, uninhabitable sites.

Environmental aesthetics of engagement (also known as the non-cognitive position) beckons appreciators to immerse themselves in the natural environment and to reduce to as small a degree as possible the distance between themselves and the natural world (Carlson, 2012). Other authors have described the use of aesthetics of engagement as a tool to appreciate urban environments. Artists and writers such as André Breton, The Situationists and its founder Guy Debord and Robert Smithson executed multiple excursions in an attempt to understand landscape aesthetics through a unique perspective (Careri 2002). At Future Green we have been developing a similarly phenomenological approach to the environment by inviting members of the public to interact with the weeds by traversing the urban environment on foot and documenting their findings through social media application Instagram. This allows us to consider the aesthetic value of the environment from the individual’s perspective through immediate and hands-on experience.

We will be launching the Spontaneous Urban Plants (www.spontaneousurbanplants.org) website in May. Through innovative mapping technology and data extraction, it will highlight the SUP’s ecological, cultural, and aesthetic values. Join us and help us expand our inventory on Instagram by tagging your photos with #spontaneousurbanplant