NatureStructure is a framework of ideas for a new generation of urban infrastructure that uses nature and natural systems as essential elements of the city.

The project is being commissioned by the Boston Society of Architects Foundation and will premiere in Boston in May 2018.

For too long, cities have sought to control nature. From burying rivers to building sprawling housing and commercial developments over wetlands and forested areas, urban environments have historically been statements of dominion over the natural world. Yet sea level rise, increasingly devastating and frequent natural storms, floods, droughts and a changing climate shows that efforts to battle and isolate the city from nature can be futile at best, and fatalistic acts of ego at worst.

NatureStructure represents an alternative relationship between nature and the city. It shows how natural systems can be woven into the most functional elements of the city to enable the city to function as a living system that works with the power of nature rather than doing battle with it. NatureStructure goes beyond green roofs and vertical gardens, showing how cities can address issues from water generation and treatment to treating brownfield sites, generating energy and mitigating pollution by harnessing nature and natural processes and using them as essential tools of urban infrastructure.

“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” – Lao Tzu

This new generation of nature-centric infrastructure includes the “Sand Engine”, a system that uses the tide to distribute sand along the Netherland’s urbanized coastline to reverse erosion and protect against sea level rise, a “bee highway” (pictured above) in Norway that feeds and nurtures endangered pollinators as they migrate across built-up areas, a bridge in Geneva that uses algae to consume the CO2 of passing cars and transform it into nutrient-rich food source, an initiative in Amsterdam using roadside devices containing honeysuckle to mitigate car pollution, and many more. NatureStructure presents a new model for urban systems, showing how reconnecting the city to nature and natural process is essential for a resilient, sustainable and livable urban future.

NatureStructure will premiere at the Boston Society of Architect’s BSA Space Gallery in May 2018 before moving on to other cities, much in the same way Reprogramming the City has since its Boston premiere. NatureStructure research and fieldwork is underway. A dedicated website will be launched shortly.

“Human subtlety will never devise an invention more beautiful, more simple or more direct than does nature because in her inventions nothing is lacking, and nothing is superfluous.” – Leonardo da Vinci

If you have a project you’d like to suggest for NatureStructure or would like to register your interest in having NatureStructure come to your city or have me come talk about it, please get in touch here.