Saturday, March 10, 2012

Hand-Sculpted Bricks Provide Wildlife Habitats

All photos courtesy: © Micaela Nardella and Oana Tudose

Usually, the best solutions are those that are simple, creative and low-tech. These new "bricks" are just the ticket when it comes to giving the House Sparrow in the Netherlands new housing options; while, at the same time, having zero negative consequences to the environment. Not to mention, the visual interest they add to a plain brick wall.

It's been discussed at length before how sustainable architecture is not just about the latest and greatest geegaws tacked onto buildings, but is also about linking them with the natural ecosystem in which they sit in. Deliberately giving biodiversity a leg up by integrating measures to provide habitat for urban wildlife is one way to do it, and we've seen some pretty nifty, well-designed examples that do just that. But what about your humble brick wall?

Seen over at Design Milk during Milan Design Week, here's one design that takes the standard red brick as a point of departure. Addressing the disappearance of the House Sparrow in the Netherlands, a pair of designers turned to the traditional technique of sand-casting brick moulds to create what they call "Brick Biotopes."

Micaela Nardella and Oana Tudose utilized sand and plaster, scooping out crevices by hand after hardening to create new habitats for birds:
The House Sparrow often finds shelter in wall cracks. Brick Biotope considers this natural phenomenon, creating a bird-friendly brick that can be applied to a standard brick wall. The design allows plants and wildlife to coexist with architecture, forming unexpected life patterns. In addition, incorporating Brick Biotope into walls creates an alternative reading to standard masonry wall construction.

It's pretty cool to watch the process from start to finish:

Recognizing that life needs shelter, water and food to survive, these hand-sculpted biotopes combine craft with ecology to show how low-tech approaches can be a viable solution to creating diverse and healthier urban ecosystems. More over at FABRIKAAT.

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