Holy Bat Cloud: Designer's Eco-Sculpture Boosts Bat Biodiversity

© Sze Wan Li

From disease to loss of habitats, bat populations around the world are declining fast due to serious pressures. As part of her Ants of the Prairie project, University of Buffalo architecture professor Joyce Hwang is one concerned designer stepping up to the challenge to mitigate these factors, creating a series of sculptural bat habitats that she dubs the "Bat Cloud."

© Sze Wan Li

Suspended midair and stuffed full of soil, plants and bat guano to attract insect prey, these bulbous, artificial bat lairs are made out of steel mesh, insulation, plastic and aluminum. The top part of the pendulous structures act as the roosting area, while the lower part collects the bats' feces. There's plenty of convenient openings for the bats to enter and exit, while also offering lucky onlookers a glimpse of bat behaviour.

© Sze Wan Li
© Sze Wan Li
© Sze Wan Li

Currently being shown as part of the U.S. exhibition at the Venice Biennale, Hwang says on Designboom that the aim was to draw attention to these oft-overlooked but vitally important creatures:

So, I think it’s about time we start looking at bats in a different way, bats are animals that are very critical to our ecosystem. They serve as natural pesticides and pollinators. I don’t know how many people are aware that bats eat loads of mosquitoes, so just for the sake of human comfort they’re quite important.

We liked the idea of trying to produce this cloudlike formation. some of the early renderings, you have this thing that looks like this amorphous blob hanging in the woods, so we wanted that sort of effect where you would see it from far away and say, 'What the heck is that thing?'

© Sze Wan Li

Like other artificial habitats created by designers for birds, corals and bees, it's always intriguing to see imaginative examples that give biodiversity a much-needed extra boost. More over at Ants of the Praire.

Tags: Architects | Bats | Conservation