Bird lovers in the Netherlands now have a new way of watching their feathered friends thanks to the recent opening of the Tij, a massive wooden bird observatory created with sustainability in mind. Designed by Amsterdam-based RAU Architects in collaboration with Ro&Ad Architects, the unique bird blind is in the shape of an egg in a nod to the thousands of large terns that nest nearby. To reduce environmental impact, the architects constructed the observatory primarily out of wood with modular construction so that the structure can be taken apart, moved and rebuilt in a different location.
Opened this month, the Tij is part of the Droomfonds Haringvliet, a project started by six nature organizations and supported by the Droomfonds of the National Postcode Lottery to conserve and bring recreational opportunities to the Haringvliet, a large inlet of the North Sea in South Holland. The Tij was strategically located at the water’s edge to overlook spectacular nature views and the rich bird life, including the terns’ nesting grounds on the small islands off the coast of Scheelhoek.
“Thanks to its complete rebuilding capabilities, modularity and materialization, it fully meets all the key points for a sustainable structure with circular potential,” explained Thomas Rau, chief architect of Tij, which was named in reference to the tide and the egg-shaped design. “By building everything in such a way that everything can be taken apart without losing any of its value, we ensure that the strain on the ecosystem is minimal. The shape of the observatory is extra special, mimicking the egg of the large tern. Nature itself produced this shape.”
The parametrically designed bird observatory is built mainly of natural materials. The large wood panels are made by a file-to-factory Zollinger construction while the slim poles are chestnut. The facade is covered with local reeds sourced from the Scheelhoek nature reserve and pre-used bulkheads were repurposed into the tunnel to the observatory. In case of rising water levels, the lower portion of the bird observatory can be safely submerged under water without sustaining damage; the bottom part of the “egg” is built of Accoya wooden beams and the floor is made from wood and concrete.
Photography by Katja Effting via RAU Architects