Cross-disciplinary Landscape Architecture / Architecture project pair with Catherine Westhead.
Our thesis 'BEE RESILIENT' explores the ways ‘Animal Aided Design’ as a methodology can be adapted to support the entanglement of wild bees as essential pollinators and humans, to enhance resilience in Stockport. Selecting the White-Tailed Bumblebee (Bombus lucorum) as the umbrella species for wild bees currently facing challenges including habitat fragmentation, pesticide use and climate change, we mapped the bee network across Stockport by building a species profile of habits and needs.
Focusing on scaling down to Weir Mill, situated alongside the river Mersey and below the Stockport Viaduct, key landscape considerations include implementing a mosaic of habitats such as woodland, community orchards and wildflower meadows, selecting plant species for pollinators, implementing sustainable drainage and the design of clay nesting elements or ‘Bee Chimneys’.
The design benefits both wild bees and human users by considering them as equals, allowing different types of human-nature interactions and support across the site and the wider bee network. This includes creating opportunities for close contact entanglement in shared habitats by incorporating informal pathways through the wildflower meadows. Opportunities for visual entanglements also allow people to connect with nature from the safety of raised walkways, minimising ground disturbance to encourage nesting and growth. A pedagogical approach is taken in the design of playscapes and nesting elements, allowing people to learn about wild bee movement and their different types of nesting habitats, whilst encouraging actions of ecological stewardship on site and off site.
In addition to supporting biodiversity from the start of the design process through a conservational method, the aim to enhance climate resilience through the sensitive design approach to the entire site, has resulted in a carbon-positive design outcome across both the landscape and building designs combined.