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Egg shaped bird observatory is inspired by nature

Dutch architectural firm RAU, in collaboration with Ro&Ad Architecten, designed an egg shaped bird observatory, made from locally sourced thatch and wood.

The observatory lies in the Scheelhoek, a natural reserve near Stellendam. The area consists of a dike with reed beds on the inside of the dike and several islands on the outside. It is a foraging and breeding grounds for sea birds like the common tern and sandwich tern.

The structure itself is modelled on a sandwich tern egg, and sits on a ‘nest’, much like a tern breeds. The nest consists of vertical ‘feathers’ of chestnut poles, reeds and small sand dunes.

Called Tij (meaning both ‘Tide’ and referring to the Dutch word for egg), the structure is made of wood, sawn by computer in 400 parts in Finland. The roof is covered with locally sourced thatch. The observatory has a parametric design that determined the best shape and position of openings.

The building was designed to have a minimal strain on the nature reserve, and it can be completely dismounted if necessary.

The observatory is divided in two parts, a higher and a lower level. The lower part floods during high tide and is made of Accoya wood, wood that is processed to reduce swelling and shrinkage and is resistant to rot. The upper part is made of pine and has a hybrid wood/concrete floor.

The thatched roof stops just above the highest possible water line. The ceiling is partly open, to provide light inside. The hole is surrounded by upstanding reeds.

The observatory is part of a bigger plan for the landscape, designed by HNS Landschapsarchitecten. On the way to the observatory, various biotopes are installed for birds. As not to disturb the birds, a tunnel leads to the observatory, made from recycled bulkheads, covered with sand and nesting holes for sand martins.

The observatory itself provides a view to breeding terns and the beauty of the delta landscape.

Photos: Katja Effting