Saskia Kleij

Saskia Kleij


De Levende Stad

The Living City   
A city for plants, animals and humans 

Over the past few thousand years, humans have used nature for their own needs, causing enormous environmental damage. Human actions have led to climate change and the extinction of many plant and animal species. This is not only harmful to nature, it is also self-destructive. The effects of climate change make areas uninhabitable and lead to increasing shortages of food and drinking water. If we continue on this path, the outlook for humanity is bleak.  

To survive, we must adapt our way of life. We need to critically examine how we relate to nature. Instead of just taking, we must give something back, also in cities. With the construction of cities, we have created stone landscapes focused on human convenience and efficiency. However, these cities simultaneously disrupt natural processes and landscapes. The effects of climate change emphasise that this urban design is ultimately unsustainable. We need to find a balance between humans and nature.  

In this graduation project, I explore how cities can be transformed into resilient cities where the needs of plants, animals, and humans are seen as equal. Using a new design methodology, I transform the neighbourhood of Overvecht in Utrecht into a nature-inclusive and resilient part of the city. Humans are no longer at the centre; instead, an integral approach to urban design is the base of the project. This way, we live more harmoniously with nature, give space to nature, and ensure a healthy and sustainable living environment. 

Graduation date: 20 november 2023 
Graduation committee: Hans van der Made (mentor), Ruwan Aluvihare, Marco Roos
Additional members for the exam: Léa Soret, Huub Juurlink 

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