The Pape Flight

Pape Nature Park, Latvia

Type: Competition for a bird observatory
Client: Pasaules Dabas Fonds in association with The WWF
Contract Value: £150,000
Status: Unbuilt
Collaboration: Ornithologist and Conservation Biologist Mauricio Alvarez

This bird-watching observatory is an integral component of the Natural Process Park built using local knowledge and technology, natural materials, and paying tribute to the local heritage of the site and its species.

The Pape Nature Park deserves a bird observatory that is an iconic tribute to bird flight. In our proposal visitors will see the bird observatory from across the Natural Process Path. The design of the observatory makes a subtle homage to the physiological feat a bird’s wing as it takes off for flight. This is why the bird observatory at Pape Nature Park has been called Lidojumā uz Papes ezeu, which translates in english as “the Pape Flight’.

The proposed observatory uses reed thatched roofing which
is a local material that can be installed and maintained by local craftsmen. The Lidojumā uz Papes ezeru [the pape flight] has a strong focus on local heritage and skills training. Local craftsmen build the weather-proof roofing in a programme that is as much about installing the reed thatch, as it is about training young people in this historical technique. The programme continues through the lifecycle of the observatory and every 7 years when the reed is replaced.

This millennial old-technique of thatching is highly weather-resistant and amicable to bird nesting. The proposed design is sculptural and pushes the boundaries of how one can use old techniques in new ways.