website / main menu


Animal Estates London HQ, Urban Wildlife Client Services

Arup Phase 2, 8 Fitzroy Street, London W1T 4BJ
October 13th, 2011 - January 20th, 2012 
Download POSTERS #01, #02, #3, #4, #5 & #6 by Åbäke with Émilie Ferrat
Check out the London Animal Estates MAP
Watch the VIDEO of the opening event presentations: "Meet the Clients Part I: Birds, Bees & Bats"
Read the STORIES in the New York Times (28 Oct 2011), New Scientist (11 Jan 2012), Ecologist (10 Jan, 2012)
Look out for the upcoming PUBLICATION produced with Åbäke

The Animal Estates London HQ provides a place for activists, architects, artists, city-dwellers, designers, engineers, homeowners, and planners to research, discuss, plan, develop, and present initiatives to accommodate native London 'animal clients'. Projects may range from simple wood nest-boxes that any local resident could construct and strategically install at home, to broad master  planning for urban wildlife corridors throughout the city. The space features areas for the evolving display of estate prototypes, work stations about each of the 11 native London animal clients, a conference room for meetings and presentations, a resource library, and a place to consult with local urban wildlife experts.

Native London wildlife species to welcome back into the city, which would benefit from human constructions, interventions, plantings, hosting, and accommodations:
8.01: Bees (multiple species)
8.02: Stag Beetle (Lucanus cervus)
8.03: Common Frog (Rana temporaria)
8.04: Hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus)
8.05: Bats (multiple species)
8.06: House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)
8.07: Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros)
8.08: Common Swift (Apus apus)
8.09: Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea)
8.10: Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)
8.11: Peregrine Falcon, UK (Falco peregrinus)


Oct 13th, OPENING EVENT: Meet the Animal Clients part I: Birds, Bees, & Bats

MEET THE ANIMAL CLIENTS Part I: Birds, Bees, & Bats, Thursday 13 October 2011, 6.00pm—8.30pm
*Produced in collaboration with the inmidtown Habitats Competition run by the Architecture Foundation and inmidtown

How did the Animal Client live on the land of London before human habitation?
What can we do or design for the city of London today to welcome them back?

Presentations by local animal experts at 7.00pm…
KELLY GUNNELL will speak on London’s bats. Kelly Gunnell works for the Bat Conservation Trust as the Built Environment Officer with the remit to facilitate solutions for bat conservation in the construction sector and urban areas.
RICHARD JONES will speak on London’s bees. Entomologist Richard Jones has been fascinated by wildlife since a childhood exploring the South Downs and Sussex Weald; he now carries out invertebrate surveys, and writes about insects for BBC Wildlife Magazine and Gardeners’ World.
PETER HOLDEN will speak on London’s Common Swifts and House Sparrows. A senior RSPB manager for over 40 years, ornithologist and wildlife expert Peter Holden has written many books on birds, including the RSPB Handbook of British Birds.


Oct 25th, 10:00-18:00: Insect City

This workshop is now fully booked, but podcasts of talks will be made available on the UCL Urban Laboratory website in due course

A multi-disciplinary one-day workshop exploring relationships between insects and cities. Organized by UCL Urban Laboratory and UCL Environment Institute.

Insects are barometers of the wider political, economic, social and technological factors that shape urban environments. In this one-day workshop a multi-disciplinary group of researchers will examine relationships between insects, cities, and citizens. Speakers from a range of arts, humanities, entomological and medical disciplines will present illustrative examples that elicit how a range of insects - e.g. ants, beetles, bedbugs, cockroaches, dustmites, mosquitoes, moths, termites - interact with the built environment and urban populations, and have agency in the production of the city and urban experience. 

The etymology of the word ‘in-sect’ – to cut into – suggests how entomological research can provide a section through the city, with specific insects acting as barometers of the wider political, economic, social and technological factors that shape urban environments. In this one-day workshop a multi-disciplinary group of researchers will examine relationships between insects, urban environments, and citizens. Speakers from a range of arts, humanities, entomological and medical disciplines and practices will be invited to choose and interpret illustrative examples of insect-city interactions (across a range of genres and media in, e.g., literature, art, architecture and other cultural forms), and to use these as a basis for a cross-disciplinary conversation. The objective is to elicit how a range of different insects - e.g. ants, beetles, bedbugs, cockroaches, dustmites, mosquitoes, termites - interact with the built environment and urban populations and have agency in the production of the city and urban experience.



Morning venue: UCL Grant Museum of Zoology, Rockefeller Building , 21 University Street , London WC1E 6DE

Registration 9.30-10.00 Room G02, Rockefeller Building

10.00 Matthew Beaumont, Introduction

Session 1 10.10-12.00
Chair: Ben Campkin

Mark Carnall, From connoisseurship to bioblitz: monitoring climate change through insect collections
Q&A on the Grant Museum Entomology collection.

Scott Meadows, Oak Processionary Moth infestations in London and St. Hellier
Matthew Gandy, Hackney moths
Nicky Coutts, The unholy insect
Q&A and discussion

12.00-13.30 Lunch break

Please make your way to the afternoon venue: ARUP Animal Estates, Department of Wildlife Client Services, ARUP Phase 2 Gallery at Arup, 8 Fitzroy Street, London, W1T 4BJ, UK

13.30 Joanne Bristol, Welcome and introduction to Animal Estates

Session 2 13.35-14.45
Chair: Jennifer Gabrys

Ben Campkin, Terror by night: bedbugs in London
Helen Bynum, From Liverpool to Sierra Leone: anti-mosquito expeditions in the 1900s
Bill Bynum, Knats in 17th century London, mosquitoes in 20th century Bombay
Q&A and discussion

14.45 Break

Session 3 15.00-16.15
Chair: (TBC)

Tadj Oreszczyn, People, buildings and house dust mites
Jamie Lorimer, Stag beetles, dead wood and the biopolitics of urban decay   
Jennifer Gabrys, Blue Bottle flies, biodegradability and urban matter
Q&A and discussion

16.15-16.25 Break and exploration of Animal Estates 8.0

Session 4 16.25-18.00
Chair: Matthew Beaumont

Eleanor Morgan, How spiders scaled our cities 
Joanne Bristol, The work of ants in the age of interspecies production
Q&A and discussion

Closing reading: China Miéville, Bug



UCL Grant Museum of Zoology (morning session) and London Animal Estates HQ at Arup Phase 2 Gallery (afternoon session), in association with artist and architect Fritz Haeg’s project ‘Animal Estates 8.0: London’. 



Matthew Beaumont, UCL English Department

Joanne Bristol, Director, London Animal Estates HQ at Arup
The work of ants in the age of interspecies production

Bill Bynum, UCL Professor Emeritus of the History of Medicine Knats in 17th century London, mosquitoes in 20th century Bombay

Helen Bynum, Medical historian
From Liverpool to Sierra Leone: anti-mosquito expeditions in the 1900s

Ben Campkin, UCL Urban Laboratory
Terror by night: bedbugs in London

Mark Carnall, UCL Grant Museum of Zoology
From connoiseurship to bioblitz: monitoring climate change through insect collections

Nicky Coutts, London College of Communication
The unholy insect

Jennifer Gabrys, Department of Design, Goldsmiths
Blue Bottle flies, biodegradability and urban matter

Matthew Gandy, UCL Geography and Hackney Moth Recorder
Hackney moths

Jamie Lorimer, King’s College Department of Geography
Stag beetles, dead wood and the biopolitics of urban decay   

Scott Meadows, States of Jersey Department of Environment
Oak Processionary Moth infestations in London and St. Hellier

Tadj Oreszczyn, UCL Energy Institute
People, buildings and house dust mites

Eleanor Morgan, UCL Slade
How spiders scaled our cities 

Closing reading by Weird Fiction novelist China Miéville



Organised by:

Matthew Beaumont and Ben Campkin

Financially supported by:

UCL Urban Laboratory
UCL Environment Institute

In association with:

UCL Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment
UCL English City Centre
UCL Grant Museum of Zoology
Friz Haeg, Animal Estates 8.0: London
Arup Phase 2 Gallery

Further information: UCL Urban Laboratory website

Link to POSTER


Oct 31st, 9:30 - 11:30, Where we look and what we look for, A series of nature walks led by Jamie Partridge

Where we look and what we look for: A series of nature walks led by Jamie Partridge in the Stoke Newington East Reservoir nature reserve, where the following Animal Clients may potentially be encountered: Grey Heron, Common Frog, Black Redstart, Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, House Sparrow, Hedgehog, Bat

Meeting Place: London Wildlife Trust East Reservoir classroom 1, Newnton Close, London, N4 2RH

RSVP with Lorna Fox:


Nov 22nd, Where we look and what we look for, A series of nature walks led by Jamie Partridge - RESCHEDULED, NEW DATE TBA

Where we look and what we look for: A series of nature walks led by Jamie Partridge in the Stoke Newington East Reservoir nature reserve, where the following Animal Clients may potentially be encountered: Grey Heron, Common Frog, Black Redstart, Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, House Sparrow, Hedgehog, Bat

Meeting Place: London Wildlife Trust East Reservoir classroom 1, Newnton Close, London, N4 2RH

RSVP with Lorna Fox:


Nov 30th, Dec 1st, 2nd, 5th, 10:00 - 17:00, Cohabitable Architecture: bats and people (a workshop)

Check out the Cohabitable Architecture blog about the workshop

The goal of urban ecologies is to integrate animal species within the urban environment. With urban development animals have been displaced from their natural habitats and are forced to find alternative homes. Bat species have come to rely on existing built structures in which to roost, and will be the focus of this workshop which addresses the following questions:

* How can we design structures that support the bat population while maintaining human occupation?
*How can we learn from the properties and behaviours of bats to design structures for humans?
*What happens when the proportion of dedicated space for humans is inverted with the proportion for bats? Will different structures and spaces be formed?
*How can we share space with animal species?
*What playful and fun spaces and structures can arise from designing cohabitable architecture?

This workshop proposes the design of cohabitable space that is to be shared between bats and humans. Through the acts of drawing and model making we will attempt to explore means of cohabitation between species. In traditional bat mitigation projects a small percentage of space is given for bat habitation within agricultural buildings with the majority of space allocated for human habitation. In order to subvert this idea we will design structures where bats take up 90% of the space and humans the remaining 10%. Inverting the proportion of living space allows us to explore aspects of the bat world that will assist us in designing the human space. Aspects such as flight, blindness, suspension, inversion and clustering will be explored regarding the human side of the cohabitation.

This workshop will span three days plus one final day for a pin up of the work to be viewed by notable urban ecologists as well as bat specialists from the Bat Conservation Trust. Supporting the workshop will be a lecture presented by experts from the Bat Conservation Trust. The lecture will focus on mitigation for bat species in structures, and will inform our design process. Focusing on the creation of a multi scalar model that may also serve as a bat box, this workshop proposes the playful exploration of cohabitable space.

Open to those 18 years of age or older who have some interest and/or experience in design. The workshop is free, but booking is essential. To book, contact

Workshop leader: Maya Cochrane is an Architectural design graduate from the Bartlett UCL. Her research is in the ephemeral with an interest in cohabitable architecture.

Bat expert: Kelly Gunnell works for the Bat Conservation Trust as the Built Environment Officer with the remit to facilitate solutions for bat conservation in the construction sector and urban areas.

Bat ecolocation device demonstration: Rebecca Stewart, Industrial Designer, Arup


Dec 8th, 18:30, Green Roofs, the Urban Sky Islands PLUS Landscaping for Bats in Urban Areas

Green Roofs, the urban Sky Islands - Biodiversity stepping stones with Kate Priestman, Arup


Landscaping for bats in urban areas with Kelly Gunnell, Bat Conservation Trust - Talk chaired by ecologist Gary Grant

Kelly Gunnell has studied and worked with biodiversity all over the world. She holds a degree in Zoology and Journalism from Rhodes University in South Africa and has studied the conservation genetics of Yellowstone cutthroat trout in the USA for her MSc. She has worked as an environmental consultant in Johannesburg and as an environmental researcher for the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in Pretoria. In the UK, Kelly has volunteered for organisations such as WaterAid and RESET. Kelly joined the Bat Conservation Trust in April 2010 to promote bats and biodiversity in the built environment. This role requires liaising with the construction sector to facilitate solutions for bat conservation and covers many areas from buildings to roads, lighting, roost mitigation and green infrastructure.

Gary Grant is a Chartered Environmentalist, Member of the Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management, an Academician at the Academy of Urbanism, Member of the All Party Parliamentary Committee on Biodiversity, thesis supervisor at the Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment, University College London, Chair of the Judges of the Integrated Habitats Design Competition and Director of the Green Roof Consultancy Ltd. After graduating from Nottingham University in 1980 with a degree in Biology, he worked for the London Wildlife Trust (LWT), campaigning for and managing urban wildspace. He conceived the London Wildlife Garden Centre, which won a RIBA/Times Award. Later he led the Wildlife in Docklands Project, a joint venture between the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust and LWT, which promoted nature as part of the redevelopment of London’s Docklands. In the early 1990s he participated in the Royal Fine Art Commission’s River Thames Study and worked on the Natural History Museum's Wildlife Garden. From the early 1990s he has designed green roofs, including the CUE Building at the Horniman Museum. Based in Hong Kong during the much of the 1990s, he worked on housing, tourism and infrastructure projects. In 2003, Gary wrote English Nature’s Research Report on green roofs and followed that in 2006 with Green Roofs and Facades published by BRE Press. From 2006 to 2009 he was a Director of EDAW and then AECOM Design + Planning, where he worked on large scale planning projects including the London 2012 Olympic Park, the Bedford Valley River Park, the Whitehill-Bordon Eco Town, Education City, Qatar and Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi.

Kate Priestman is an environmental consultant with over ten years’ professional experience, undertaking project work within a variety of environmental disciplines (primarily ecology, plus contaminated land). As part of Kate's current Senior Ecologist position based in London, she provides advice, undertakes protected species surveys, and produces reports at all stages of a development programme, focusing on guiding projects to meet client needs and minimising ecological risk, whilst identifying opportunities for ecological gain and sustainable operation.

Dec 15th, 18:30, Meet the Clients Part III: Hedgehog Habitats

Meet the Clients Part III: Hedgehog Week
A presentation on hedgehog habitats by expert Hugh Warwick with special project by Jessica Easter

Our hedgehog population is in decline, dramatic decline. Conservatively we can now say that there has been a 25% decline in the last 10 years alone, and that this might only be part of a much more substantial collapse. Some estimates suggest this could be as extreme as a 95% decrease in the number of hedgehogs in the UK since 1950. The key reason is development — whether that be intensive farming saturating the land in agrochemicals and removing hedges, or the fragmentation of suburbia through the perpetual increase in road traffic and the move towards more contained and manicured gardens — hedgehogs are finding it increasingly difficult to navigate the anthropogenic landscape. Hugh Warwick will talk about how this problem can be addressed, and while there has been such gloomy news, there is cause for hope. We are beginning to take the threats to hedgehogs seriously and have instigated a host of campaigns and studies that should at least stem the flow.

Hugh Warwick is a writer and ecologist who has studied hedgehogs on and off for over 25 years. An honorary life-member of the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, he has dedicated much time to assisting in the conservation of hedgehogs. He also has a 'normal' life as a journalist/consultant and father doing a wide variety of projects from making an award-winning film for the Quakers about nonviolent protest to writing opinion pieces in the Guardian and the New Scientist.

Jessica Easter is an artist whose work addresses ecological issues. She has a BA Hons Visual Arts and Communication from Greenwich University and has been researching hedgehog habitats for Animal Estates.


Dec 17th, 10:00am - 13:30pm, Bees & London Wildflowers: A Wallpaper Workshop

Bees & London Wildflowers: A Wallpaper Workshop (download PDF)

This project proposes to create a collective wallpaper during a three hour workshop. The wallpaper will be inspired by William Morris’s work and composed of different species of flora found in London. Morris was one of the great wallpaper pattern designers. His wallpaper patterns were inspired by his intimate knowledge of natural forms and were usually titled with names of flowers. Morris took the natural forms that he found outside in the woods and meadows, and then used them to decorate the inside of our homes. This idea is developed further during the workshop using flora particular to London and creating a wallpaper for display in the exhibition Animal Estates but also for each participant to take with them to decorate their room, their classroom, etc.

The wallpaper will take into account the characteristics of bees’ vision, namely their attraction to black and white patterns. The eyes of bees are composed of many small lenses (ommatidia), which bring many points of light together to build a grainy photograph, similar to the weft of newspapers. The sensitivity of bees to ultraviolet rays deprives them of many colours. The ocelli (eyes on the top of their head) distinguish light and dark, which make their environment black and white during the flight. For example, a field of poppies will be seen as a deep black area. The only time a bee can see colours is when it approaches flowers at a very slow speed. Bearing in mind those characteristics, the participants will create a black and white wallpaper made of many different floral patterns, connected together at the end of the workshop.

Open to children between 8 and 12 years who have some interest in nature, animals and handicrafts. The workshop is FREE but booking is essential. If your child is interested in this project, please contact or

10.00 — 10.15 - Arrive Animal Estates HQ, Department of Wildlife Client Services
10.15 — 10.30 - Presentation of William Morris’s work and creative approach with flowers by Émilie Ferrat
10.30 — 13.30 - "Bees and London Wildflowers" wallpaper workshop

WORKSHOP LEADER: Émilie Ferrat is a graphic designer graduate from l’École Nationale Supèrieure des Arts Appliquès et Mètiers d’Arts, Paris. She is a bee researcher for Animal Estates and an intern in the graphic design studio Åbäke.



Dec 20th, 9:30 - 11:30, Where we look and what we look for, A series of nature walks led by Jamie Partridge

Where we look and what we look for: A series of nature walks led by Jamie Partridge in the Stoke Newington East Reservoir nature reserve, where the following Animal Clients may potentially be encountered: Grey Heron, Common Frog, Black Redstart, Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, House Sparrow, Hedgehog, Bat

Meeting Place: London Wildlife Trust East Reservoir classroom 1, Newnton Close, London, N4 2RH

RSVP with Lorna Fox:


Dec 25th - Jan 2nd, Animal Estates London HQ closed for the holidays

Where we look and what we look for: A series of nature walks led by Jamie Partridge in the Stoke Newington East Reservoir nature reserve, where the following Animal Clients may potentially be encountered: Grey Heron, Common Frog, Black Redstart, Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, House Sparrow, Hedgehog, Bat

Meeting Place: London Wildlife Trust East Reservoir classroom 1, Newnton Close, London, N4 2RH

RSVP with Lorna Fox:


Jan 5th, 18:30, Beam Parklands - A case study of habitat creation in a densely urban area of East London

Beam Parklands - A case study of habitat creation in a densely urban area of East London with Mark Job and Oliver Barnett, Arup

Mark Job is a Chartered Landscape Architect with extensive experience of masterplanning and landscape design of major development projects. Mark has a particular interest in integrating engineering solutions with high quality landscape and environmental design, identifying solutions which have far reaching social, environmental and ecological benefits. He has developed specialist expertise relating to river restoration and habitat creation work with the Environment Agency, working on high profile projects in areas experiencing unprecedented levels of redevelopment such as the Thames Gateway and the River Lea corridor. Mark has developed a close working relationship with engineering, architectural and environmental specialists from across Arup, combining to deliver effective solutions for complex situations.


Jan 12th, 18:30, The future for biodiversity in urban environments PLUS Swifts and the built environment

The future for biodiversity in urban environments - What can be achieved by thinking big? with Austin Brown, Arup


Swifts and the built environment with Edward Mayer, Swift Conservation

Austin Brown has a BSc (Hons) in Zoology and over eleven years' of ecological and wildlife biology experience. This has provided Austin with strong theoretical and field skills in British and overseas ecology including terrestrial and marine biology, population biology and habitat and wildlife corridor creation. He has significant experience in the development sector undertaking ecological appraisals in the UK and overseas that inform Environmental Impact Assessments.

Edward Mayer’s working career has been mostly in buildings and facilities management; he was Gallery Manager for the Tate Gallery in London from the opening of the Clore Gallery to the creation of Tate Modern. Edward has loved Swifts since childhood. In the late 1990's he noticed that the Swifts nesting in his local area were in decline. He realised that re-roofing of local properties was blocking Swifts from returning to their long-established nest sites. Surveys show that unless we take action now, and on a significant scale, within 20 years the Swift will become a rare bird within the UK. The solution is to both create new nest places and properly protect existing ones. To create awareness of this, Edward set up "Swift Conservation" a web-based advice service, celebrating Swifts, and showing what can be done to save them. Swift Conservation provides essential advice to government, building professionals and the public.


Jan 16th, 18:30-20:30, Bees in the City: biodiversity and the built environment

Bees in the City: biodiversity and the built environment, a public discussion

Moderated by beekeeper Chris Deaves, this discussion brings together a range of perspectives from architect Ian Ritchie, architect Murray Kerr, designer Amy Pliszka and engineer Paul Johnson, in relation to issues and practices of human / bee cohabitation in London. Issues addressed will include the practicalities of keeping bees in the city, as well as the social, aesthetic, ecological and economic benefits of living with bees in urban areas. This event will act as the closing event for Animal Estates London HQ: Urban Wildlife Client Services. The event will also mark the launch of two new works produced in association with Animal Estates London HQ: a ‘City Bee-House’ by Murray Kerr, displayed within the Animal Estates space; and a ‘London Honey Map’ poster for Animal Estates by Åbäke. The event is FREE but booking is essential.



The Insect Hotel (1: 5 model), 2010 - by Arup Associates

Mick Brundle and Simon Swietochowski of Arup Associates, model production by Daryl Miles of Arup Associates

stacked birch wood ply, recycled waste, organic deadfall

Insects prefer habitats that are essentially neglected. Different varieties of insect require different habitats and environmental conditions to survive, so the challenge in designing an Insect Hotel was to cater for as many of these conditions and contexts as possible. These habitats generally consist of the detritus of the natural and man made world of organic and inorganic materials most of which can be procured from waste management or garden sources. The most important consideration is that the hotel needed to be buffered against temperature extremes with humidity maintained for certain species. Most simple insect hotels may be constructed in a very straightforward way from an assemblage of materials stacked together aided by an armature structure, that contains the disparate materials. Stacked timber palettes containing a variety of deadfall and inorganic waste is an example of this approach.
As the objective of the City of London Corporation’s Brief suggested that the hotel was also ‘visually engaging and a well crafted object’ and ‘enhanced its setting and complementing the garden’ as well as having utility and corresponding to a defined volume, a more sophisticated version suitable for the vicissitudes of a London Park and the more critical eye of the human inhabitants seems to be what was required.

The Hotel Guest’s Requirements
Stag Beetles: Need rotting logs for their larvae to eat and grow in. The design must ensure that these do not dry out, but neither must they be allowed to get too wet. This habitat should be located at ground level.
Solitary bees: Above the stag beetle compartments and consisting of stacked logs of varying sizes and cut bamboo, with ends facing out. Compacted sand/dirt mixed with broken terracotta is also useful.
Butterflies and Moths: A series of vertical slots should be used as an entrance to a dry wooden space that is filled with vertical planes of bark.
Spiders, Lacewings and Ladybirds: A combination of materials can be used here, including discarded shredded shoes; a variety of materials to produce various grades of space, including rolled up corrugated cardboard within plastic tubes.

The Design
The design maximised the extent of the allowable volume set by the brief of 1500mm x 1500mm x 500mm deep. The facade of the hotel consisted of a series of compartments based on a Voronoi pattern, generating a series of voids of varying size at a depth of 500mm. The Voronoi pattern is found in the natural world as for example in the rib structure of a dragonfly’s wing and can be generated to conform to particular void size requirements and location. The Hotel was fabricated from 25 layers of 20mm thick stacked birch wood ply, 1500 x 1500mm overall with the voids CNC milled and bonded together to form a total thickness of 500mm overall. The voids provided the supporting armature and an ordering structure for a variety of recycled waste materials and organic deadfall loosely inserted. The sides of the hotel were accessible for butterflies and moths through a slotted panel and the top was a planted habitat. The hotel was the Judge’s winner in the competition to celebrate the 2010 International Year of Biodiversity sponsored by British Land and the City of London. The Judges included Paul Finch Chairman of CABE, Sarah Henshall, brownfield officer, Buglife, Adrian Penfold, Head of Planning and Environment British Land, Graham Stirk, Rogers Stirk Harbour and Partners, Peter Wynne Rees, Chief Planning Officer City of London.

Mick Brundle, Arup’s Environmental and Product Design teams for Sky Garden and
Grey 2 Green
June 2010


Bees Beside Us, 2011 - by Amy Pliszka

production by Amy Pliszka, Mathew Dwyer, John Milnes, Amy Congdon, F. Ciment Pleating

organza, linen, walnut, ash

Bees Beside Us are structures of biodegradable materials, designed to work with the natural cycle of bees to provide them with expandable living spaces.
Waterproofing, insulation and ventilation are priorities in the design, which demonstrates an appreciation of what bees do for us and our intrinsic connection to them.
Beehives designed for bees, from their perspective

“If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would only have four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man.” - Albert Einstein

City living potentially provides a rich and varied pollen resource giving bees all the nutrients they require for their good health.  Rural bees choosing to relocate to the city may benefit from a new kind of architecture that is designed purely from their perspective.

Bees Beside Us is a collection of expandable living spaces designed for urban bees using natural, biodegradable materials. Overall the design aims to work with the natural cycle of the bees allowing for all of their idiosyncrasies.

Textiles have allowed an exploration of an architectural alternative for bees to fulfil multi-functional aspects of their lifestyle needs. My research in honeybee biology, apiculture and practical beekeeping enabled me to compile a ‘bee brief’ from which all the textile processes and material choices evolved.

Ultimately I hope to forge a new kind of relationship with bees and methods of beekeeping within the urban context. To create an innovative design that demonstrates an appreciation of what bees do for us, and our intrinsic connection to them.


Nestworks for Urban Birds (Block, Bough and Bush), 2010 - by 51% Studios

[Catherine du Toit, Peter Thomas, Atsushi Iwata] with Peter Holden

modified standard hollow Lignacite (block), modified ash from Riverford Organics (bough); dense berrying holly, ilex aquifolium, (bush); maquette prototype for a woodcrete cast, photocopy paper and masking tape

Informed by ornithological derives with Peter Holden, 51% Studios’ Nestworks are ‘assisted readymades’ in the form of blocks, boughs and bushes, attractive to urban birds. Inspired by Witherford Watson Mann’s Strategic framework for the Bankside Urban Forest, which likens streets and pocket parks to the streams and clearings found in a forest, Nestworks have been designed primarily for house sparrows as well as for the birds of the forest we share our cities with: blue tits, great tits, starlings, blackbirds, robins and wrens. The first prototypes were shown in the Union Street Urban Orchard during the 2010 London Festival of Architecture since when scores have been permanently located across the wider Bankside area. The project is sits specific, responsive and provocative.

Thanks: The Architecture Foundation, London Festival of Architecture, Better Bankside, BOST, Andy Holden, Ben Weeks, Open Vizor, Southwark Council and Southwark Cathedral.

51% Studios / Urban Birds


Pocket Habitat, 2010 - Arup’s Environmental and Product Design teams for Sky Garden and Grey 2 Green

composite felt material, substrate blend, wildflower seed mix

Pocket Habitat is a unique modular vegetation system designed to promote biodiversity in urban areas. The product forms a sculptured, engineered habitat that is specifically designed to support vegetation and wildflower growth. This in turn provides a self sustaining environment for pollinating and burrowing insects as well as other invertebrates, which are a valuable source of food for birds. Pocket Habitat fits together to form a tessellated mosaic of vegetation which can be moved as needs dictate and is therefore ideal for retrofitting to existing roofs as well as providing flexibility in new buildings. Pocket Habitat was designed and developed by Arup’s environment and product design teams for Sky Garden and Grey 2 Green and has been installed on several urban projects across the UK.


Animal Estate Regional Model Homes 8.01 - 8.11

8.01: Bees (multiple species) - wood with 3/8" holes
8.02: Stag Beetle (Lucanus cervus) - rotting logs
8.03: Common Frog (Rana temporaria) pond
8.04: Hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus) - rock pile and leaf litter
8.05: Bats (multiple species) - bat house
8.06: House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) - nestbox
8.07: Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros) - nestbox
8.08: Common Swift (Apus apus) - nestbox
8.09: Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) - platform for nesting
8.10: Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) - nestbox
8.11: Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) - nestbox


London Wildlife Trust
Bat Conservation Trust
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
Centre for Ecology and Evolution
The Black Redstart Organisation
Natural England
Swift Conservation
Grant Museum of Zoology
Environmental Agency
London Biodiversity Partnership
London Biodiversity Action Plan
Greenspace Information for Greater London (GiGL)
Reset Development: ecological adaptation of the built environment
Design Council’s Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment
Design for London
Design for Biodiversity
CIRIA’s Building Greener
SEEDA’s Building for Nature
Living Roofs Organisation
The Ecology Consultancy
Neighborhoods Green
Architecture Centre Network
UCL Urban Laboratory
UCL Environment Institute: Sustainable Cities
Minding Animals
Animal Studies Humanities Network
Performance Footprint: site, performance and environmental change
The Kindest
London Fieldworks
Antennae Magazine
Urban Habitats Journal
Nature Calls: Animals in Visual Culture
Natural History Book Service
Animal Citizens: London School of Economics, October 7, 2011
Animal Ecologies in Visual Culture: University College London, October 8, 2011
The Animal Gaze Returned: London Metropolitan University, October 27 + 28, 2011


The Doormouse at Yarmouth Road

One day me and my dad went outside in our garden and sat still on our chairs.

Suddenly a doormouse came out of the hut my dad made! It was very fat and looked terrified. We sat very still, stiller than we were before.

I was very happy that it came.

Since then, I sometimes bring berries to it. I didn't see it much though. But on some occasions I saw him. But then I didn't anymore. He might of been caught by my cats.

- by Maia Anselmo (9 years old)


The Town Fox and the Country Fox

In 2009 I was working with Urbanomic. We were putting on events and shows in Falmouth, Cornwall and we were scheduled to premier a new sound work by Russell Haswell called ‘A Hoard of Flies Feast on a Rotting Pheasant Carcass’. For this intense work, Haswell had put a contact mic inside a dead pheasant that had had the misfortune to fly into his window and break its neck. We wanted to make a small physical installation in the Urbanomic space to accompany the work, so with Haswell’s permission we decided to simply put a plinth in the center of the darkened space with a dead pheasant on it. The pheasant was spotlight from above by a concealed light – it looked great, with the pheasant’s head drooping over the edge of the small plinth. People sat around the edge of the room listening to the sound of this pheasant being swarmed over by flies. In the lead up to the show, I was given the task of finding a pheasant for the installation. It was out of hunting season, so I couldn’t just go to the local butcher and buy a pheasant – I had to phone around for a few days before I found a country estate which held pheasant shoots, and a helpful estate manager gave me the phone number of his head gamekeeper. After explaining our little project the keeper agreed I should visit him and he would give me a cock pheasant that had recently died of old age – which I did.

Once he had given me the dead bird we got talking about country matters in general. He was everything you would imagine a gamekeeper should be – a very knowledgeable and straight up guy, a real countryman’s countryman. He mentioned to me that he had shot 64 foxes on the estate already that year, which I took with a mixture of intrigue and repulsion. But then he offered a much more fascinating observation: he could tell the difference between a city fox and a country fox because “a city fox is always thin and it won’t run away when you point a gun at it”. I pressed him for more on this and he told me he had a theory that foxes were being physically moved out of London and released in the far Southwest. This would explain why they were thin he added, because an urban fox wouldn’t have the skills to fend for itself in the country and would be hounded out from wherever it was by local foxes and eventually starve to death. The urban fox forced into this scenario is a truly ‘de-territorialized’ animal.

Later that week I was chatting with a digger driver who was doing a small job for us at the FIELDCLUB site. We soon got talking of country matters, and I retold to him the fascinating and rather disturbing story the gamekeeper had given me. He suddenly got very animated and started to tell me the next instalment of the story: The digger driver had a friend who was a policeman, and one night, this policeman had stopped a white van driving down the M5 towards the Southwest at 3 ‘o’ clock in the morning. The driver opened up the back of the van on the policeman’s request, who was then shocked to see rows of wire cages each containing a live fox.  The policeman quizzed the driver and was told that he was working for an animal welfare charity and regularly made similar trips. Apparently the foxes were victims of road traffic incidents in the city, and were usually taken to an animal hospital by the guilty but well-meaning perpetrator, whereupon the fox’s anthropogenic ailment was attended to. But then – and this you must understand is second hand information – the fox is given ‘the snip’ and quietly bundled out of the city to be released into the far away alien environment of the Cornish bucolic, where lurks our accommodating, but sharp-shooting gamekeeper.

Hmmm… So, who wants to try and extract a definition of the ‘humane’ here?

- by Paul Chaney (FIELDCLUB)


Grey Heron at Rushmere Pond

The fog rises like a hill blending into the misted sky, and save for the immediate path that I tread, all is obscured completely. I feel like an explorer about to uncover a new world. As the pond comes into view, I can only make out the dark mirror of the water's surface in the foreground. The farthest side of the pond that I know so well is a haze, and the fog disguises trees, thin black branches only visible as if under a veil. The usual array of starlings, and the lone pied wagtail, along with the dozens of pure white gulls, are visible and audible right before me, but it's a more sinister visitor I seek. Had I not been searching for the lone grey heron that I know to be a daily guest on Wimbledon Common's Rushmere pond, I would not spot him at all. Feathers as grey as the water and vapour gloomily surrounding him, I spot his sharp silhouette and see this mysteriously cut figure. On the sunniest day, the grey heron can spook you the instant he is revealed - but here in this thick November vapour, there is even more of a ghostly, breathtaking figure about the bird.
The bird has taken its customary standing position - up to its legs in water, neck hunched into body, beak aloof. Silent and waiting. The haunting shape and presence of the bird is such that I feel a strange sense of trepidation in watching him. I feel giddiness mixed with fear. The stature and eeriness of the grey heron makes sightings fill you with the kind of awe you might ordinarily reserve for spotting a fleeting, close glimpse of your favourite celebrity. The clandestine nature of the heron's presence, and how shy it is, how quickly it will flee should you move too close or too sudden, is also akin to a famous figure that would rather not be disturbed, and whom finds photos and stalkers distasteful.
Soon the heron takes to its twig-like legs, dragging one leg behind the other in the silt of the pond, strutting along not gracefully but suspiciously, cautiously. It takes steps so slow and pauses so often so as not to warn its prey, the fish, that it is in hunting mode. Curiously, the more I watch the grey heron, the more I find myself following its habits in order to get the closest sighting and for it to remain undisturbed so I can monitor it with wonder. So it is I find myself copying the heron - taking steady, halting steps, consciously pausing every so often to be as still as the air that I might be an unnoticed guest. It feels me with the same kind of giddy fear as if I were afraid to get caught, encroaching on a famous person's front lawn!
I wonder if the heron, that I have been watching, sketching, photographing, writing about since September, somehow senses it is me - has begun to know my presence, my scent; that I am seeking to get to know him. He seems to eye me with suspicion. He looks perturbed and makes his way towards the water's edge, and up onto the mossy banks where there is tall grass. He stands, a great grey hulk, amidst the marshy grass. He dips down - in the fog I cannot make out if it is to seize some water vole or rat. He appears once again, his left wing clearly defined, his feathers ruffled. He's hunched, looks miffed. That great yellow beak dominates the scene. I get as close as I dare. This would make the most fantastic photograph - the coat of mist shrouding the trailing willow tree amidst whose leafy dangling branches can be seen the heron, alert, poised, ready to strike.
At one moment, the heron seems to have spotted me and follows the curve around the tree trunk as if hiding from my chase. I go the opposite way around the tree - he goes the opposite way from me. It's like a silent comedy - every time I make towards the heron, it runs round the tree away from me, hiding. But he's hungry and seeking breakfast, and I fear that beak, so I know when to take my cue. I sink back into the mist, give one final distant, safe look. The grey heron looks so perfectly picturesque, huddled up, crowded by marshy grass, half-hidden, fog still filming everything sinisterly. The wonder never fails; I shall return.

As I leave the scene, the sun starts to break through the thick white mass of cloud and fog. The starlings burst onto the bright golden sky, strewn high across the air in frivolous display. I smile. Once again, nature has provided me with its calming, enriching, powerful beauty.

- by Fliss Collier


The Coot Family

Opposite my front door, I watched them build a nest as though it was floating in the middle of the stream, two coots creating a home for their expected young. As spring warmed up the eggs hatched and three fluffy grey bundles took to the water, zig-zagging across the gentle current, always in sight of their parents.

Falling in love with this water bird took me by surprise, they are everywhere, on lakes and rivers across the UK, Europe and North America; believed to have spread from South America, the species on the other side of the Atlantic are generally bigger than the European bird but all stay in their chosen homes all year round.

At eight years old, in class thirteen we were given projects to learn about an animal and present it to the other students; with an odd number of kids, I was left alone and given the last project – Coots. The sleek black bird with a white beak and shield captured my attention. Members of the rails family, Rallidae–Fulica, and related to the Moor Hen, they often share sections of river in small groups and larger flocks during colder months, ready to defend their territory with voracious strength, attacking any predator especially during breeding season. Adult coots can breed two to three clutches in a season, each time producing five to ten eggs. Once the brown spotted eggs are laid, parents share the incubation period and nurturing of their offspring until they flee to create their own families. Nestlings hatch with downy grey fur and red and yellow feathers surrounding their beak, in a matter of weeks this is lost and a smooth grey colour emerges. Similar to Grebe, they sport lobed toes instead of webbed feet, helping to propel them through the water and floating vegetation. This home is built with plant material dragged from the banks and although it appears to be suspended on the edge or in the middle of the water, it is anchored in place by surrounding plants.

Along the Grand Canal I watch a mother and father take turns passing meals of plants and insect larvae to their juveniles, swimming further away, enticing them to follow and search. If hand fed they flock for seeds like every duck on the lake and when necessary they supplement their diets with eggs of other birds, I can’t imagine these chicks, chasing each other able to use such survival skills.

Their sharp high pitched call turns your head, echoing along the bank; I recognise this alarm while walking along the Thames, a juvenile coot is swimming from side to side, upstream then down again, his cry piercing and louder than I have heard before. His parents are not in sight, no other duck is nearby, my heart tears, silently urging him to keep searching as I continue on unable to help, eventually his cries slowly faded but I spot no other coot in the area.

Until that every coot I saw belonged in a pair or family group, the lost coot felt like a child in a supermarket, like myself alone by the water. As the nest is built outside my house, I pick names, pretending I know the difference between mom and dad and each chick. All summer they play as I study and work and as winter comes along they drift off and I move to a street with barely a green blade of grass but I never have to go far to find this resourceful bird.

Wading in any wetland environment they may appear to be a common duck you pass by with barely a glance but the coot is no less unique because of their numbers and will always make me take the time to stop and smile.

- by Vicky Anne Smith

- EXPERTS on each of the 11 animal clients, interested in collaborating and advising
- VOLUNTEERS to assist in assembling the archival presentation about the 11 species
- DONATIONS of books and other relevant printed material for the resource library
- PROPOSALS for the space: presentations, seminars, meetings, events, displays...
- STORIES of your experiences with urban wildlife in the city of London for publication

Graphic design and installation in collaboration with Åbäke
Director of Animal Estates London HQ: Joanne Bristol
Curated by: Jennifer Greitschus
Exhibition build: Richard Roberts, Nick Westby, and Rob Updegraff
And thanks to: The Architecture Foundation and Ben Campkin
Animal Estates London HQ interns and assistants: Maya Cochrane, Fliss Collier, Jessica Easter, Émilie Ferrat, Mark Martines, Marcus Nyman, Jamie Partridge, Hayley Peacock, Dan (Eva) Xie
Animal Estates is an on-going project by Fritz Haeg