TIJ: Sustainable Wooden Bird Observatory

RAU architects

Architects: RAU architects
Location: Stellendam, Netherlands
Year: 2019

RAU Architects, in collaboration with Ro&Ad Architects and with the Droomfonds project as the client, designed a huge wooden construction that lets people watch a rich variety of birds in a beautiful way. Thanks to the use of sustainable and circular materials and a unique shape, the fully rebuildable structure offers a genuine experience for every nature lover.

The wooden nature artwork was given the name “Tij”, a reference to the tide and, of course, to the egg-shaped design. The bird observatory offers a fantastic view of the exceptional nature of the Haringvliet delta and its rich bird life. Among other things, a colony of thousands of large terns nest on the small islands off the coast of Scheelhoek, which is overlooked by the bird observatory.

Nature Artwork

The observatory, made of reeds, chestnut poles and sand, was designed parametrically to achieve a good relationship between shape, construction, size and viewing holes. Local reeds from the Scheelhoek nature reserve were used for the covering. Large spans of wood were made by means of a file-to-factory Zollinger construction. Pre-used bulkheads were employed to make a tunnel to the observatory.

Thomas Rau, chief architect of Tij: “Thanks to its complete rebuilding capabilities, modularity and materialization, it fully meets all the key points for a sustainable structure with circular potential. 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.”

Nature lovers can enjoy the impressive view of the breeding islands, the Haringvlietdam and the surrounding area via a hybrid wood-concrete floor. The bottom part of the egg is made from Accoya wooden beams. This part of the observatory can be submerged in case the discharge level of the river is high. The part that remains above water is made from pine.

The Droomfonds Project

The bird observatory is one of the icons of the Droomfonds Haringvliet project. Since 2015, six nature organizations, supported by the Droomfonds of the National Postcode Lottery, have been working together on an ambitious nature recovery strategy and a recreational plan for the Haringvliet. The six nature organizations are ARK Natuurontwikkeling, Natuurmonumenten, Staatsbosbeheer, Sportvisserij Nederland, Vogelbescherming Nederland and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

Future

With the opening of the bird observatory, the nature organizations have completed the Droomfonds project, but they will continue to join forces for the Haringvliet even after the Droomfonds period has ended. The six cooperating nature organizations see many opportunities for further restoring the dynamics in and around the Haringvliet, and they are happy to continue building on the sound basis that they have been able to lay down together with the region in recent years.