Human habitats could do a lot more than provide shelter for humans; future sustainable, low-carbon buildings could also incorporate design elements to boost local biodiversity as well. We've seen examples of this before, such as these bird-colony structures that can be added onto under-utilized urban walls. For Canada's Studio North, this element came in the form of 12 birdhouses, attached to a larger, human-sized, elevated structure they call the Birdhut.
Seen over at Contemporist, the Birdhut sits among the treetops, located on a hill near Windermere, British Columbia. Designed as a place to retreat into nature, the main draw is the location and the potentially close encounters with wildlife. The birdhouse openings, which are integrated into the Birdhut's shingled facade, are sized according to the birds that are endemic to this mountainous region, explain the designers:
The materials, form, and orientation of the birdhut were designed to offer nesting opportunities for as wide a variety of local birds as possible. The pileated woodpecker for instance, is a larger bird that seeks out a nesting space 15 to 25 feet above ground, with a 4” entry hole and an 8”x8”x24” cavity. The warbler, on the other hand, is a smaller bird that typically nests 9 feet above ground with a 1 1/8” hole and a 4”x4”x6” cavity. Considering both the largest and smallest varieties of local birds, the hut sits 9 feet off the ground, with its peak at 20 feet above the ground and birdhouses scattered in between.
Like the local birds that flit in between and build their nests amongst these silent arboreal giants, the Birdhut has been built using materials scavenged from the site itself. For instance, this whimsical cabin-on-stilts has been placed on cross braced structure built of lodgepole pines, harvested from a spot nearby that had recently suffered a forest fire, while the flooring planks and cladding were taken from a old deck.
Polycarbonate sheeting was chosen for the roof to make the space feel more open and to also allow natural daylight to enter and passively heat up the interior. Natural ventilation is increased thanks to two round openings in the hut's walls, made, for human-sized avians. Going out the round-windowed door, one can cross over a footbridge that touches the hillside, allowing the hut's occupants to get back on solid ground and a campsite that includes a fire pit and natural spring nearby.
Capable of sleeping two humans (and a dog) it's a simple but lovely little cabin that integrates places for birds to call home too. It's a whimsical design that tackles an important issue in its own small way: with various wildlife populations declining around the world, it will be essential for humans to figure out how to include concrete ways to boost local biodiversity in the design of sustainable buildings today, and for the future. More over at Studio North.