This fall, the park on central Tartu's Vabaduse puiestee, will see the addition of some new natural habitats, which have been designed by landscape architects as part of the European Capital of Culture Tartu 2024 project "Curated Biodiversity."
In Tartu, designers, architects and landscape architects have combined forces to come up with several innovative ways to enrich the urban flora in one of the city's most central green spaces. Now, those ideas are starting to become reality, with several small habitats having already been created and a further two to be added soon. With some of the work and materials needed to construct the habitats requiring drier weather, the rest of the project will be completed in the spring of 2024.
"Teelusikas," which was designed by TajuRaum landscape architects, is a small wetland habitat that is currently uncharacteristic for this part of the city. A mini-bridge has been placed over certain points of the path, allowing people to walk across more easily, and improving the connections between some of the park's green areas. A layer of clay underneath this area prevents rainwater from soaking into the soil. The clay basin has been filled with vegetation suitable for wetland areas.
"Bundle of trunks" ("Tüvekimp") by Laura Linsi and Roland Reemaa, is a sculpture constructed from tree trunks, which had fallen victim to a recent storm. The trunks have been tied in a tight and strong bundle, providing habitats for a range of plants and insects.
"Tree Fence" ("Puumurd") by Latvian landscape architects ALPS, helps to create a shelter for birds and other aquatic life on the banks of the Emajõgi River. A tree that was also brought down by the river bank during a recent storm has been given a new life thanks to an artificial island made of stones.
The designers, landscape architects and architects received consultations from experts including zoologist Tuul Sepp, archaeologist and biologist Mart Meriste and ornithologist Marko Mägi.
According to Tuul Sepp, there is much more space for nature in the city than people are used to seeing.
"Every tiny patch of habitat helps to reduce the fragmentation of nature and creates opportunities for wild species, many of which are in decline globally due to human activity. The habitats created by the designers in the urban landscape illustrate important elements of urban nature - the material cycles, the connectivity of habitats and the potential for structural diversity in urban green spaces," said Sepp.
"What is equally important is engaging people in thinking about urban nature through their work. I hope that these structures will inspire similar or different creative and exciting habitat solutions for other urban green spaces," she added.
At the end of October, a habitat created by designers at research-based design studio kuidas.works will also be added to the park. The structure, which will comprise of tree branches and clay, will be then be filled in with clay in spring. The object will retain moisture, while urban wildlife will be able to find shelter among its branches and twigs.
This year, there will also be a "meeting bench" added to the park by Kavakava architects, which will provide an opportunity for people to get up close and personal with nature.
More information about the European Capital of Culture Tartu 2024 project "Curated Biodiversity" can be found here.
Editor: Michael Cole