Plug-in is a speculative project that questions the preeminence of human-centered design. Man transforms their surroundings to fit human needs, but seldom considers the animals who also reside in the region. My project argues that we should create affordances in all constructed objects to suit wild animals who are forced to adapt to the human-built world.
Many common designs for human beings are hostile to animals and their survival. Plug-in supplements human-centric designs with playful add-ons that suggest humorous, yet critical accommodations for animals. These whimsical interventions ask people to think about the other sentient beings with whom we share our cities and backyards. Without subverting the design for humans, nor its usability, my small additions reveal that the constructed environment is rarely animal friendly.
Dou Gong Planter is one of the examples of Plug-in. In northern China, migratory birds, namely swifts (apus pekinensis) were once wide-spread. These birds’ legs are very fragile, so they seldom perch on branches and they don’t make their nests in trees like many other birds.
Long ago, they lived in crevices in the rock walls, but after the development of human civilization, these swifts were forced to share their environment and they began to prefer to build nests in the eaves of traditional Chinese architecture.
However, as time passes and architectural technologies change, these traditional buildings are becoming less and less common. With the current prevalence of modern high-rise buildings in China, the habitat of the swifts is once again in flux and availability of adequate nesting locations is dwindling. Furthermore, the remaining traditional buildings have been equipped with nets to keep birds from roosting, due to the corrosive nature of their excrement, only making the plight of the birds more severe.
The upper part of the planter is inspired by Dou Gong and eaves of traditional Chinese architecture, and constructs a narrow and safe space for the swift to build a nest. With a rectangular entrance of approximately 60mm by 30mm, this is an ideal space for swifts to enter and nest. To alleviate the annoyance of the birds’ droppings, there is a shelf for flowerpots or other plants below the area in which the birds will nest.