Multispecies design - city life for more than humans

Supervisor: Professor Oya Demirbilek

Climate change, diminishing resources and rapid species extinctions present unprecedented challenges. More than a million living species worldwide are facing extinction. City planning, designing and constructing are inextricably linked to the economic and social realities that co-produced the Anthropocene. Cities are not bounded or exceptional spaces. Imagine life in global cities, where more than half of the world population lives at the moment and consider that by 2050, 75% of the population will be living there. We need to reimagine how we live in cities, how we understand our human selves and our relationships with the beings we share the planet with. It is about the stories we tell, the designs we produce and the ways in which we live and co-habit with other living species.

This Honours research stream will support project proposals that explore our urban life in large cities with a multispecies lens and an inclusive design approach. It is about finding ways to transform the ways we support and protect the foundations of life on earth. It is also about finding ways to extend sustainability, accessibility and inclusive design beyond outcomes and activities that only or mostly benefit humans, by looking at the ecosystem as a whole, with humans as still an important part of it. Research and design outcomes in this area will help establish major interdependencies and identify vulnerabilities and make the presence of urban wildlife more visible in cities; highlighting their specific needs and the benefits of living among them.

View Presentation Slides >


Barton, H., and M. Grant. 2006. “A Health Map for the Local Human Habitat.” The Journal of the Royal Society for the Promotion of Health, 126 (6): 252–53.

Heitlinger, Sara. and Comber, Rob, 2018. Design for the Right to the Smart City in More-than-Human Worlds. arXiv preprint arXiv:1803.10530.

Houston Donna, Hillier Jean, MacCallum Diana, Steele Wendy, Byrne Jason .2018. Make kin, not cities! Multispecies entanglements and ‘becoming-world’ in planning theory. Planning Theory, Vol. 17(2) 190-212.

Koskinen, I.; Zimmerman, J.; Binder, T.; Redström, J.; Wensveen, S. Design Research Through Practice. From the

Lab, Field, and Showroom; Morgan Kaufmann: Waltham, MA, USA, 2011.

Maller, Cecily, 2018. Healthy cities are more-than-human. Foreground,

Metcalfe, Daniel J., 2015. Multispecies Design, PhD Thesis, University of the Arts London and Falmouth University

Ogden, L.A., Hall, B. and Tanita, K., 2013. Animals, plants, people, and things: A review of multispecies ethnography. Environment and Society, 4(1), pp.5-24.

Szydłowska, Agata and Rosińska, Monika, 2019. Zoepolis: Non-anthropocentric design as an experiment in multi-species care, June 2019, WHO CARES? 8th Biannual Nordic Design Research Society (Nordes) Conference, Aalto University

---, 2019. The Benefit of Designing for Everyone, May 2019, Report prepared by PwC Australia, Centre for Inclusive Design.