The Ground Below Our Feet

The Fallowfield Loop, Manchester

My work explores ‘Animal-Aided Design’ (AAD) as a methodology for the design of outdoor space. ‘The Ground Below Our Feet’ investigates whether an AAD of the Fallowfield Loop can encourage the continued local establishment of the declining Erinaceus Europaeus (European Hedgehog). This involved considering the species from the beginning of the process, so that its conservation became a central part of the design as it developed. Beginning with a thorough exploration into the movement of the hedgehog, its seasonal requirements formed initial boundary conditions. Technical considerations included: the permeability of boundaries, materiality, the height and form of the walkway, and the plant species selected.

Human-users were understood as equally significant - ‘The Ground Below Our Feet’ is simultaneously an exploration into the ways that AAD can benefit visitors. These benefits are visible in human-nature interactions and learning opportunities. An elevated path (informed by the local movement of the hedgehog) invites the user on a journey that stops and starts, moves in and out of enclosure and towards different biotopes. A series of location specific markers along the journey are also exhibition points informing the user about the hedgehog. Children are invited to move like a hedgehog in a pedagogic play area.

This thesis is a playful investigation into what a landscape designed using AAD might look like. It is also a meaningful exploration into how landscape architects might consider local biodiversity from the beginning of a scheme to its realisation.