The University of Sydney School of Architecture, Design and Planning presents a new exhibition that explores inspiring new possibilities for designing and building inclusive architecture to host both human and nonhuman lifeforms.

Opening on Thursday 22 April at the Tin Sheds Gallery, The Architecture of Multispecies Cohabitation presents unusual but hopeful stories of human and other-than-human interdependence through the architectures that host them.

Carp as kitchen helpers. Shadehouses designed to host guests amidst ferns. Farmhouses where the cattle live downstairs. Decorative dovecotes for the harvest of nutrient-rich fertilisers. Enormous cylindrical towers for human remains to be devoured by vultures... these are some of the examples that contextualize the subject of ‘multispecies cohabitation’.

Architects, developers and planners have an important role to play in the mitigation of climate change and protection of biodiversity. However, despite successfully rallying behind technological solutions to climate breakdown such as low-carbon building services or solar panels, architecture as a profession has yet to meaningfully address its ongoing role in biodiversity loss.

In the context of anthropogenic global warming and the accelerating extinction of species, the exhibition presents work from a research archive of historical precedents in order to inspire new possibilities for building worlds with the other-than-human in mind.

The Architecture of Multispecies Cohabitation and the accompanying events series invite reflection on these issues of contemporary architecture. How might we design – and live – in ways that are more generous to other species, and that recognise our interdependence with them? What might result if political ecology, biology and ethology were allowed to contaminate the disciplinary boundaries of architecture? How might novel forms of commitment emerge between humans and other species, and be enshrined in protocols, participatory processes and practice?

The Architecture of Multispecies Cohabitation offers a platform for difficult discussions around the many nonhuman lives that make human life possible and what is at stake in the continued production of spatial separation between species, while piecing together an alternative and joyful constellation of meaningful references for designers.

The exhibition is supported by the Culture and Animals Foundation and the Sydney Environment Institute.

Exhibition dates

Opening night: Thursday 22 April, 6-8 pm. Register to attend here.

Exhibition period: Thursday 22 April – Friday 4 June 2021

CovidSafe Venue: Tin Sheds Gallery, 148 City Rd, Darlington NSW 2008

Image: Still from Grey Gardens. Directed by Albert Maysles and David Maysles. 1975.