Parametrically designed egg-shaped observatory lets you watch local wildlife

Katja Effting
© Katja Effting

The possibility of using architecture to encourage biodiversity and restore ecosystems is something that all designers should take into account. Of course, one can have fun while doing it, as is obviously the case for Dutch design firm RAU Architects, who designed this distinctive, egg-shaped wildlife observatory along the Dutch coast.

Done in collaboration with RO&AD Architecten, the TIJ Observatory is intended as one of a series of camouflaged viewing pods for watching birds and other animals, thanks to its strategic location in a nature reserve, situated amidst the dam-like constructions of the Haringvlietdam.

Katja Effting© Katja Effting

Katja Effting© Katja Effting
Completed back in the 1970s as part of the massive Delta Works project to shorten the Dutch coastline, some of the Haringvliet sluices have now been opened up, allowing salt water to flow in and prevent the connected rivers from freezing, thus improving water quality, stimulating fish migration, while boosting biodiversity and the health of local ecosystems. The idea here is to let visitors witness the gradual restoration of the land, and to cultivate an appreciation for nature, in an unobtrusive way.

Katja Effting© Katja Effting

Katja Effting© Katja Effting

Designed using parametric tools to achieve a visually pleasing balance between form, structure and the greatest possible span of its small timber struts, the observatory looks like a cross between an ovoid nest or a giant, thatched egg, as it rests tranquilly among the breeding grounds of several bird species. The structure rests on a combination of vertical ‘feathers’ of chestnut poles, reeds, and small sand dunes.

Katja Effting© Katja Effting

Katja Effting© Katja Effting

Katja Effting© Katja Effting

To reduce the possibility of disturbing the birds, the approach to the viewing post has been cleverly disguised as a tunnel, covered with sand, recycled posts and wood planks that were formerly used in brick manufacturing. Besides looking quite natural, the sand offers an extra habitat for local birds like terns, waders and sand martins.

Katja Effting© Katja Effting

Blending in with the beautiful landscape, the TIJ Observatory promises to bring people up close and personal to the wonders of nature. As we can see here, sustainably built architecture not only needs to consider the long-term impact of its materials, construction techniques and maintenance -- it also needs to support the flourishing of biodiversity -- whether it's out in nature or in the city. To see more, visit RAU Architects, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.

Parametrically designed egg-shaped observatory lets you watch local wildlife
Situated in a nature reserve along the Dutch coast, this unique structure not only serves as an observation post, it also provides extra bird habitats.

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