Covert Ecologies

Year: 2021
Location: Glasgow, Scotland
Tags: Research, Installation, Ecology


Covert Ecologies is a series of habitats which explore mutualistic relationships between insects, humans and the urban environment. It is also the practical component of my masters' thesis, mechanisms of care, about applying ethics of care to multispecies design. Built with scavenged local materials and carefully selected flora, they represent a reconstructed landscape of meanings at a disused city site.

Based in Glasgow’s Shawbridge Arcade, the project looks at a place which once represented a thriving hub of activity, but is now vacant. By working intimately within this local context and non-space, I wanted to see if what I found out could be related to ongoing conversations in a wider context, when the issues we’re trying to deal with seem bigger than us.

By looking at the perils, but also unintentional opportunities, or niches, created by our urban landscapes for other species, we can ask where the future balance of power lies in the spaces we cohabit – as well as new pathways towards future representation and collaborative survival.

Heavily influenced by their surroundings in Glasgow, the habitats themselves act as a tool for placemaking and challenging binaries, facilitating wider discussions about belonging, privilege and locality. For insects, these hybrids of artificial and organic materials are an invitation to participate in reclaiming urban materials and conditions.

After their construction, the four habitats were reconstructed digitally using photogrammetry – have a closer look at them here.

Covert Ecologies to seria zastępczych siedlisk, które badają mutualistyczne relacje między owadami, ludźmi i środowiskiem miejskim. Zbudowane z lokalnych materiałów i wyselekcjonowanymi gatunkami roślin, reprezentują zrekonstruowany krajobraz znaczeń na nieużywanym terenie.

Arkada Shawbridge w Glasgow kiedyś stanowiła kwitnący punkt odniesienia, jednak w ostatnich latach została opuszczona. Pracując w lokalnym środowisku tego nie-miejsca pozwalało na badanie kwestii, które się odnoszą do bieżących dyskusji w szerszym kontekście.

Przyglądając się zagrożeniom, ale także przypadkowym możliwościom lub niszami ekologicznymi, jakie nasze miejskie krajobrazy stwarzają dla innych gatunków, praca pyta gdzie w przyszłości będzie leżała równowaga sił.

Siedliska same w sobie działają jako narzędzie do uwzględniania miejskiego dziczenia, kwestionując binarne podejścia do natury oraz ułatwiają rozmowy o klimacie, wymieranie gatunków ale także o ludzkiej reprezentacji i wspólnym przetrwaniu ludzi i zwierząt. Dla owadów te hybrydy sztucznych i organicznych materiałów są zaproszeniem do udziału w odzyskiwaniu miejskich materiałów i warunków.

Po zbudowaniu, cztery siedliska zostały zrekonstruowane cyfrowo przy użyciu fotogrametrii – przyjrzyj się im bliżej tutaj.


The first habitat is an extension of an existing structure, made with movement patterns of moths at night in mind. Made from electrical ducting, it provides a dark place away from predators, along with their companion plant species.


Made from decaying wood, this habitat is a nursery for beetle larvae which provide important ecosystem functions, cycling nutrients and decomposing organic matter. It mimics communication infrastructures which produce radio frequencies that have been found to disrupt the beetle’s sense of time and navigation.


In cities, mayflies have been found to lay their eggs on roads. To the mayfly, the asphalt’s reflective properties are the same as the water in which it needs to lay its eggs. This wildlife pond camouflages itself with its surroundings, reclaiming the materiality at the source of this troubled relationship.


As concrete breaks down, it creates a type of stalactite – calthemite, a unique feature of the Anthropocene. Its mineral composition is calcium carbonate – the same material used by snails and many other invertebrates to build their shells or exoskeletons. Out of this process of decomposition, it proposes new ways for life to be created from human ruins.

Stanisław is a multidisciplinary designer, currently based in Warsaw, Poland.