Focusing on site as a generator of design, this studio concentrated on creating a harmonious relationship between the natural and the built environment. The ecologically complex site of Hornsby Bend provides bird watchers with an ample variety of species due to its rich land. It is home an array of trees and vegetation, as well as several ponds that attract both song and shorebirds.
The sensitive nature of the site emphasizes the importance of minimal building impact. A bridge connects the nature center on the shore to the bird blind sitting on the pond. Human intervention is limited, therefore the building has an unobtrusive relationship with the site. This project is about embracing nature with a subdued touch on landscape, enabling visitors to wander, whisper, and watch.
The concept of simplicity drove the design process. The aesthetic is minimal, with regular spacing between the wooden components of the enclosure. The importance of views is illustrated in the overall building form, where gaps for observation are expressed. Srategies are used to move people through. The surrounding nature takes precedent, making visitors feel integrated with the site of Hornsby Bend.
Above is a site model showing the bridge and the bird blind. The walkway begins at the nature center on the shore, then angles out towards the middle, and finally ends at the bird blind. The angle was placed to mark the threshold between the two structures. Both are straight in directionality, emphasizing arrival and departure at each location.
A floorplan shows the entrance (medium length), the seating area (long length), and the window area (short length). The entrance was designed to pull people through using three strategies: restricting side views, providing frontal views, and narrowing the width. This prevents crowds from forming at the entrace. The seating area is the longest wing, where gaps are strategically placed to allow for visitors of all ages to look out onto Hornsby Bend. Next to it is a short wing that has an inward looking opening, as well as gaps that look out toward the overall area of the pond. The opening looks out to a “courtyard”, providing a contemplation area. The short wing was designed as a visual relief, utilizing differences in scale. This was achieved by juxtaposing the vastness of the pond with an intimate view of the structure’s courtyard.
UPPER LEFT: This elevation belongs to the bird blind’s entry area. It lacks openings, a strategy used to prevent crowds from forming at the entrance.
UPPER RIGHT: This elevation shows the contemplation window of the short wing and the entry area. Strategic openings are placed directly in front to pull people through onto the main area. Another strategy to prevent crowds from forming at the entrance is a narrow width that allows for only two people to pass through.
LOWER LEFT: This elevation of the sitting area shows the relationship between height and views. The two gaps at a higher level are for adults, the higher one being for tall people and the lower for the short. The lower views are for children and people sitting down. The sitting area is defined by the lower views.
LOWER RIGHT: This elevation shows the shortest side belonging to the area with the window. Here, the upper gaps accommodate tall bird watchers, and lower gaps cater to shorter people.