Out of a pilot program called the Wild Urbanism design studio at the University of Oregon’s Department of Architecture comes Integrating Habitats, an open design competition focused on the interface between nature and the built environment. In collaboration with the Nature in Neighborhoods initiative of Portland, Oregon, the competition calls for innovative, multi-disciplinary efforts that fuse design excellence, ecological stewardship and economic enterprise to create healthy urban ecosystems.
Mike Shannon for 2007 Muller/Cerra Wild Urbanism Studio, University of Oregon
The challenge for participants is to uphold a holistic design approach for three conceptualized sites common to the Portland metropolitan region with consideration of open space, site planning, environmental preservation and restoration.
The sites include a neighborhood infill development with a remnant oak woodland/savannah habitat interface, a mixed use development with a riparian forest habitat interface and a commercial development with a lowland hardwood forest habitat interface. The competition gives particular attention to the initiatives of Nature in Neighborhoods which work to protect clean water and healthy natural areas for fish, wildlife and people.
The winning designs will “redefine the current language and standards of environmental sustainability by fostering balance between conservation and development, maximizing biodiversity and safeguarding water quality for this generation and those to come.”
It is a challenge that requires a multi-disciplinary outlook to “blend, balance and integrate” the needs of people with those of the natural world. Visionaries from all relevant disciplines including landscape architecture, architecture, planning, urban design, stormwater management, engineering, water quality, ecology, wildlife biology and development are invited to participate.
Winning designs will be selected by a world-renowned jury and a People’s Choice Awards will be enabled via a web-based gallery voting system. The culmination of the competition will be The Design Guide, a resource of development solutions that showcase possibilities for balance between community and nature.