With these steel and glass high rise structure, architects are constantly trying to create these inclusive atmospheres which only caters to humans and in this process, they are forgetting that humans don’t exist as an individual species but rather they are a part of a bigger ecology; an ecology that is meant to be retained for the survival of all living things. 

Synanthropic habitat is a concept that emphasizes multiple species living together, and was highly practiced in ancient architecture one of the examples can be the pigeon holes in Mughal architecture; how the exterior facades were molded to created spaces for the birds but with the development of modern architecture such co-existence is not appreciated and city are built only to appropriates human neglecting all the others.

Understanding the Synanthropic Habitat in Urban Space through Visual Architecture of a Movie Sheet1
©Pinterest

The relation between film and architecture enables reflection on the importance of architecture as an indispensable element in every development that involves space, time and people.” The statement highlights how the fusion of architecture and movies helps to better visualize spaces and scenarios which can enable the creation of impactful changes and development. 

One of these scenarios that it enables to reimagine is the co-existence of humans and other species in an urban context, the animated movies like Ratatouille, Stuart little, the secret life of pets, and many more emphasizes multiple possibilities of how the current cities could be redesigned to appropriate it for other species and also helps to visualize our spaces from the eye of these species.

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Ratatouille_©Pinterest

These movies tend to reestablish the idea of semi-private outdoor spaces, which act as buffer spaces creating a possible habitat for multiple species. The movie visualizes scenes of chance encounters between the stray animals and humans within these spaces, almost developing a relationship between them which is about familiarity and co-existence much like synanthropic. These outdoor spaces such as gardens and backyards are visualized in architectural drawing as empty spaces with no such activities, but the cinematography adds elements that bring life to these spaces such as the sunlight, the blowing wind, the flowing water from the fountain, etc., these fill the space with motion and pictures them as desirable spaces.

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The Secret Life of Pets_Universal Studios
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The Secret Life of Pets_Universal Studios

One of the most prominent features of modern architecture is the skyscrapers, a structure, and scale that is very alien to not just the animals but also to the humans, the verticality in such structure is used to create a secluded atmosphere. Furthermore, it creates a human-centric space that is devoid of any interaction with the co-existing species and stands as a dominating object to which animals neither are familiar nor are accustomed. 

The world of the cinema enables us to see these spaces and buildings from a completely different viewpoint, it makes our vision of how these structures stand as dominating and overwhelming objects in front of these other species. The camera captures the perspective of these species and makes one realize how these structures are so inhabitable for smaller species co-existing within our context and simultaneously the cinema also reveals the outnumbered possibilities that exist within our spaces that can enable us to provide a habitable environment to them. 

One of the examples for this can be the set of Stuart little where he is shown living in a gabled roof; a void at the top of every house which is empty and a waste of space, the movie conveys the concept of reimagining the usability of space and how we can create multiple interventions within our existing structure to make them habitable spaces for the animals.

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Ratatouille_©Pinterest
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Ratatouille_©Pinterest

Urban design is a more holistic concept in comparison to architecture, architecture can sometimes be a little specific and target a particular set of the user but this cannot be the case with urban design this where one needs to understand that humans, animals, plant all of them are a part of our context and the spaces designed need to cater to them equally. 

Unfortunately, when the cities are designed the designers are so engulfed in fulfilling the needs of humans that they forget that the animals that co-exists in the urban spaces are also users and they should also be kept in consideration, no one points out these flaws of urban design like the movies. The dead zones of the city which we consider to be the space for animals to live, the movies constantly remind us how unpleasant these spaces are and when designing the cities, we need to consider how these co-existing species will live rather than assuming that the dark alleys, sewage lines, and other dead corners are where they will live. 

The cinematography uses effects of color, texture, darkness to represent the unpleasant atmosphere of these spaces and connect it with the storyline to emphasize how unfair it is to expect these spaces to live in these spaces, thus constantly making one reconsider the purpose of these spaces within the city. 

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Ratatouille_©Pinterest
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The Secret Life of Pets_Universal Studios

Collectively, the animated movies that show animals living in an urban context make the viewer understand how the modern cities designed by humans are so inappropriate and inhabitable for the other co-existing species.

Author

Aqsa is an architecture student and a self-taught writer. With keen interest in urban planning and cartography. She believes that words are the fourth or the unseen dimension of a space that can enable people to connect to spaces more than ever thus aiming to empower the architecture community through her voice.

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