A bird hide designed and built by Professional Diploma in Architecture students at the Centre for Alternative Technology was shortlisted for the Architect’s Journal Small Project Awards earlier this year.
Situated in Coed Gwern, CAT’s woodland, the bird hide provides protection for bird watchers without detaching them from their surroundings. While some bird hides can be curiously bunker-like, the structure’s spaced wooden beams create an airy atmosphere, blending into the Welsh forest.
Constructed from two timber fans interlocking with two vertical walls, the hide is also unique in its adaptability. While it currently looks out on a peaceful valley in mid-Wales, the spacing of the windows and the visual permeability of the whole structure enable it to be translated into other contexts.
Intended to be a temporary structure for summer bird watching, the building’s adaptability is but one part of its impressive environmental credentials. A stunning example of architecture working harmoniously with nature, the hide not only fosters a closer connection to the surrounds than a more traditional wildlife watching hide, but reflects a strong emphasis on sustainable practice.
“The size of the structure was determined by the standard lengths of timber we used,” says designer Bryn Hallett, “reducing the amount of cutting, so not producing much waste.” Built over a mere five days from organically grown, untreated Welsh timber, the use of wood products make the structure carbon-sequestering. The construction process was similarly environmentally friendly – using no mains electricity but only battery and hand tools, and just one car, workers walked to the site and used a compost toilet.
At a cost of £1500, the bird hide was one of the least expensive structures shortlisted in the Architect’s Journal Small Projects award. An annual competition for buildings costing less than £250,000, this year’s awards attracted a wide range of impressive submissions. “When we got shortlisted were quite surprised,” says Bryn, “there were lots of really interesting projects. Presenting to the jury was a great experience – it was fantastic to be considered as an equal alongside all the practicing architects.”
The bird hide has also been highly popular on the Architect’s Journal website where it is currently one of the ‘most viewed’ projects in the Architect’s Journal Buildings Library.