IST Research Lab: Interspecies Village

Where: Royal Academy of Art, The Hague (KABK)

Guided by: Anna Sitnikova and Elizaveta Glukhova

How: 1 semester, 10 classes, 18 projects

Human desires and needs are the foundation of the design. Naturally, we take a user-centred design approach for granted. Design as a discipline evolved from the presupposition that humans are at the centre. Much like in anthropocentrism everything was understood from that perspective.

The mission of this IST Lab is to steer imagination and induce paradigm shift from the bottom up of the design process. The students will be challenged to design environments for the clients they pick from their natural surroundings, think of a plant, fungi or bacteria.
The students will interact with the species of choice to find out about their needs but also to learn about their environmental behaviours, such as harvesting solar energy, oxygen production, eating habits, other interfaces. These will lay the foundation for design concepts and physical translations, resulting in new forms of inclusive architecture/environments that facilitate the needs of various urban species. Students are asked to create a special living environment for these small organisms, thinking of their natural needs as well as functions they can carry and how those two can be looped in a sustainable way.
When we think of designing an environment or a space integrated into the urban environment we rather focus on building elements than systems. There are too many aspects that we take for granted such as existing infrastructures and even particular cultural or political aspects. We focus on the integration of new technologies or addressing some of the most urgent environmental issues in our designs, but our approach still remains very fragmented and we lack an overall perspective. Unfortunately, this attitude brought us to a profound environmental crisis where often human-made structures do harm to the fragile balance of our living environment.
“Ironically, now that humans limit their growth and exploitation of natural resources and nature comes to benefits from humans’ inactivity, it seems such an extraordinary experience to us. Indeed it is the natural state of the earth that animals and other life forms rule over the space of the planet. We, as the top-tiered species, deserve our space but not to the point of driving other species to the edge of the earth.” – Zone2Source

Interspecies Village IST Lab offers a playground to exercise in inclusive and holistic design approach and on a small scale try to learn nature’s wisdom.