ULTRAWILD: An Audacious Plan to Rewild Every City on Earth

Publisher: Allen & Unwin

Steve Mushin is an industrial designer and inventor. This means that he spends his time inventing machines that transform cities into ecosystems: he’s made high-tech city farms, solar thermal ovens and even a 17-metre-long soil-making mechanical millipede. 

This remarkable (and often funny) book – written and illustrated in fabulous detail by Mushin – presents a selection of wild-sounding ideas, devices and techniques for rewilding cities as a solution to climate change.

Developed with feedback from a number of scientists and engineers, Mushin presents cutting-edge technologies (autonomous vehicles, bird drones, robot farms, algae bioplastics) in ideas as seemingly crazy as a sewer submarine, mechanical megafauna and a chicken castle (in which chickens help us create safe gardens, away from savage wild animals).

His illustrations – delivered in a colourful notebook form – are absolutely beautiful, and there are some fabulous double-page spreads featuring large illustrations that are really breathtaking. 

The level of detail here is immense. It does take a dedicated reader and quite a lot of time and attention to follow Mushin’s complicated thought development paths, as well as a good understanding of the scientific concepts he is using in his inventions.

There’s a useful glossary of terms at the back of the book as well as notes of the adult scientific or engineering texts he has referenced for each chapter, but this is a book aimed firmly at engaged Year 6 to Year 8 students. It’s brilliant, beautiful – but highly complex. 

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