2021 - Compass Stage
What are the benefits of biodiversity? - With Mette Skjold
Architect, Partner & CEO
Mette Skjold, SLA architects, presents the Novo Nordisk Headquarters outside of Copenhagen, which is a project in which industrial space has been enhanced by 25 different indigenous and native plants and many animals and insects
There is an understanding of nature being outside of the city, which Skjold and her firm try to tackle in an interdisciplinary way. The quintessence is to “put the nature back into the city”, which boils down to increasing the quality of life; particularly in cities. Amongst other cities, Toronto and Paris, work with overarching biodiversity plans, that require the fulfillment of certain points before construction commences. Another city, Abu Dhabi, is also part of SLA architects’ projects. The process entails thorough research on native plants, which are then used for the respective projects. Skjold stresses that the interplay between “built” and “grown” environments must be analyzed even after construction is finished.
In the discussion with the moderator, Skjold summarizes the approach by SLA as: “a nature-based design with the focus of how it feels and how it functions. It is about understanding the performance of nature, based on research and experience; then reintroducing it to the city.” They swiftly touch upon the romanticizing of rural areas as diverse, although they are now predominantly agricultural fields with monocultures. Skjold also assess a sentiment or urge of society for nature in the city, which is fundamental for urban-planning that SLA designs. Further, also the component of comfort is mentioned as being tied to such designs with temperatures declining significantly, thus rendering the outside more agreeable for humans.
The two also talk about “greenwashing”, with people or organizations instrumentalizing words such as “biodiversity” as well as token greenery to seem biodiverse.