Ph.D. project within Circular Built Environment
Udviklingssselskabet By og Havn I/S,
Royal Danish Academy– Architecture, Design, Conservation
Alongside rapid urbanization, escalating climate concern, and the emerging realization of the consequences of biodiversity loss, a new urban concept has arisen: The regenerative city, and with this; ambitions of integrating biodiversity in urban development. The ideology of the regenerative city exceeds classic ambitions of the circular ditto. While circular ideas often focus on reusing, recycling, and reducing resources, regenerative ideas seek to restore and regenerate what has previously been lost. For example, a regenerative city aims for integrating biodiversity and supporting the rehabilitation of ecosystems through native planting, wildlife habitats, ecological stepstones, eco-education of citizens, and restoration programs connecting the urban with its hinterlands. A regenerative city strives to mimic ecosystem services and to develop multispecies environments focused on the needs of more-than-humans.
The essence of the regenerative urban paradigm lies in transforming cities from mere (although more and more conscious) consumers of resources into active participants in restoring and enhancing the natural systems that support all life on earth. Thus, the concept of the regenerative city provides a beacon of hope, but the idea of a city integrating into a complex web of ecosystems challenges the urban actors of today, as neither biodiversity issues nor ecosystem thinking has traditionally been a focus in urban development.
The research offers a deep case study exploring today’s practices targeted biodiversity in urban development and explore ideas of the regenerative city, navigating an intricate web of urban actors and their sometimes collaborative, sometimes conflicting endeavors. The study uncovers drivers, barriers, paradoxes, and diverse strategies related to integrating biodiversity in the city.
The study captures the balancing act required to transition ideas of biodiversity from vision to reality, delving into complexities born of conflicting interests, financial constraints, diverse worldviews, and knowledge gaps obstructing the transformative journey towards a regenerative city benefitting citizens of today, tomorrow as well as the more-than-human. The findings emphasize the indispensable role of ongoing communication and collaboration among stakeholders to help surmount conflicts and hurdles and unfurls a tapestry of deeply embedded (power) dynamics shaping the urban landscape. It delves into varying ideas and practices of different urban actors – where grassroots movements voice their ideas of biodiversity alongside urban officials. This case study underscores the imperative of holistic thinking, cocreation and cooperation, transcending silos to craft urban spaces that truly incorporate ecosystem thinking.
The research is relevant for urban planners, researchers, policymakers, and citizens seeking insights into how to re-envision urban landscapes. The study can inspire the journey towards a regenerative future where the importance and characteristics of biodiversity are recognized and has become a driver for a radical transformation of the way we develop cities.