A biotope is an area of uniform environmental conditions providing a living place for a specific assemblage of plants and animals.
Biotope is a proposal for an eco-specific sculpture of flora for fauna intended to advocate for stewardship of a riparian buffer zone along the Schuylkill River next to Bartram's Garden in Philadelphia, PA in connection with Mary Mattingly's ''WetLand''.
The 45-acre plot of land that is Bartram's Garden is composed of a botanical collection of both native and non-native plants, grassland with prairie species, and a tidal wetland. This area of land has historically been very disturbed and it is our hope that bringing native plants that also form wildlife habitats will facilitate the movement of native species along this green corridor and reinvigorate the shoreline.
Biotope has two primary outcomes: a wildlife habitat and a wiki.
The project’s first function is to support local wildlife habitat on the Schuylkill River while restoring a riparian buffer zone. This will be done by growing the materials necessary to sustain habitat for local fauna. To this end, an floating architectural site will be constructed out of recycled waste and found materials to house and grow native plants specific to the needs of the this particular ecosystem. The structure will take the shape a geodesic to support a vertical hydroponic farm made from found water bottles and double as a closed loop irrigation system powered by a solar water pump. The structure will be floating on docks made buoyant by more water bottles. It will also be surround by a micro-wetland also built from waste materials. Its intended site is to be moored in the Schuylkill River. Bartram's Garden guest may potentially be able to paddle to the site as stop along their summer water tours.
Rachel Burlington, gardener for the Barnes Foundation Arboretum, is working with Biotope to research plant communities. The project will also provide a substrate upon which habitat surrounding Biotope can thrive. Biotope will work with Independent Seaport Museum Harbor Master, Robinson Yost, to expand the capacity of the structure and further develop aquatic water beds previously researched on WetLand to support the vegetation.
Biotope supports civic empowerment through the making and sharing of ideas and information in service of stewardship. Its purpose is to support wildlife habitat and improve damaged riparian zones in Philadelphia while providing the public access to environmental art projects and research. Research from this project will be documented and shared publicly on Biotopia to provide the public with access to the knowledge generated by environmentally beneficial art projects.