BIOTOPE

FASHION XY

The Hidden Border between Humanity and Nature

 
In an age where the whole world is urbanizing rapidly and   sky-wards, smart homes are being installed and ever more   items are available from the internet, a niche architectural firm in Norway is making its own contribution. 
 
&ldquoArchitecture is a tool to protect and promote birds, wildlife and nature.&rdquo This principle forms the basis of Biotope&rsquos entire philosophy. Biotope is the only architecture office in the world based on a professional love of ornithology. The office is at   the heart of various environmental projects.
 
 
Biotope was born of the rather unusual idea of basing an office in an area reserved for bird-watching &ndash a first for Norway. Tormod Amundsen, Elin Taranger and Alonza Garbett are three friends who were both bird-lovers and architects, and went into this extraordinary business together, uniting their professions with over 25 years of experienced ornithology. In other words, these three close nature-lovers decided to use their shared hobby to take architecture in a completely unexpected direction. Every architectural project that the team draws up keeps this in mind, and is highly conscious of conserving the environment.
 
The team is heavily involved in the design of bird sanctuary, hidey-  holes for observing, walkways, open-air theaters and many other projects. Aside from these various works, Biotope sets up regular workshops in order to brainstorm and develop ideas and concepts    about the environment and wildlife.
 
 
Biotope&rsquos hidey holes and sanctuary designs look like the work of serious ecologists. While designing each of their architectural works they keep functionality for bird lovers and in mind and retain sensitivity to the angles and views so that birdlife can be seen clearly and uninterrupted. It is a striking example of how architecture can act as a brigde between humans and nature.
 
The open air bird sanctuaries are dotted with bird-watching towers ideal for taking snaps from. Each one is camouflaged and decorated according to various habitat themes. Vibrations, wind resistance, observation lines and other important features are included in the making of the designs.
 
But who would care but for bird watchers? That question is easily answered. Everyone from professionals interested in nature to the national environmental authority is sure to take an interest, as with time it will be projects like this that will be given financial backing.
 
 
The group class themselves as somewhat of a biological collective and their most exciting work is found on the landscape in &lsquoHornøya&rsquo, a wind refuge full of cliffs and slopes. This is the place most frequented by Norwegian ornithologists. Located in the Varanger region, this is an oasis where birds can rest and protect themselves from the harsh arctic climate, and it has been transformed into a habitat unlike know other thanks to the care and creativity of the group. A range of bird shelters have been built to provide for over 100 000 birds at a time. It&rsquos worth it for an island known as one of the biggest bird-watching  and photography hotspots in the world.
 
The ingenious idea of creating a minimalist space shared by humanity and nature for observation and photography demands secrecy to be incorporated in all the designs, in order to ensure the birds don&rsquot get scared away by the various visitors, let alone the camera flashes. &lsquoWhen you are trying to get closer to nature, make sure you don&rsquot overstep the mark&rsquo is the key message posted around the set-up, a melting pot of compassion and technology.
 
 
The niche architectural agency works tirelessly to benefit the local population as well as the general public. An amphitheater/bird watching tower design called &lsquoGrandefjæra&rsquo is the most interesting, harmonious and notable example of this drive. A ramp that stretches from the sentinel leads to the small amphitheater below that acts as a point for small groups to get together and talk about what they&rsquove seen in a comfortable seminar atmosphere&hellip The building provides a great place to view nature, with a transparent roof, creating the feel of being at one with the environment.
 
A place where professionals and nature lovers meet, Biotope opens the door for a new type of convergence between disciplines as they are as much ecologists as they are architects.