The call for ideas WWF OBSERVATION CABINS was launched on March 2021 by YAC – Young Architects Competitions – in collaboration with WWF for the design of observation points and a visitor centre in the oasis of Orbetello. WWF Observation Cabins competition aims at creating a place where to raise awareness, where visitors can reconcile with nature by enjoying and acknowledging the beauty that lies where human beings manage to remain silent and listen.
WWF’s oases were created to protect the abundance of this planet and the right to exist of every living creature. The oasis of Orbetello is located in Tuscany, central Italy and, more precisely, it is a lagoon. One can think that visiting the oasis of Orbetello is mainly a visual experience. Yet, with a more thorough analysis, it is undeniable that a stay in such an oasis offers an all-encompassing experience. It is not just about the bright light-blue color of kingfishers, the metal green color of mallards or the pastel shades of flamingos. This experience also encompasses the softness of cork barks, the impertinent singing of redshanks and the sea perfume rising from the lagoon. Here, in winter more than 300 species of birds dance between waters and skies.
Designers from more than 100 countries took part in this compelling challenge proposing their valuable concept ideas evaluated by an outstanding jury panel including Sou Fujimoto, Kazuyo Sejima, Patrick Lüth from Snøhetta, Mariana de Delás, Simon Frommenwiler, among the others, evaluated the project proposals selecting those better responding to the competition’s brief. The winning projects have been awarded with a total cash prize of € 15,000 distributed to the first seven teams ranking.
In particular, the Italian team Fingers Crossed ranked first and was rewarded with € 8,000. The project was designed by Gioia Romani, Filippo Marconi, Simone Passaro, Lorenzo Bacci and it aims to create “ An all-encompassing experience, an explosion of sensations, perceptions and new discoveries. The elements dedicated to the observation of fauna arise from the idea of continuing the experience of the walk. The visual glimpses of the landscape allow us to identify the volumes near the lagoon, the three elementary shapes allow us to understand their typology. Here, the wildlife walk is intimate and protected, slowly you reach the observation window, through which you can enjoy the outdoors and be amazed by the wonders of the wildlife.”
The second prize of € 4,000 was awarded to the Polish team three times K featuring Weronika Klaus, Joanna Klejment, Aleksandra Kreft with a project taking its inspiration “from the forms of the observation cabins came from the birds that live in the ecosystem of the lagoon. The shape of the point comes from the type of activity at which the bird will be observed. The watchtower takes its shape from a flying bird, the point at water level from a diving bird, and on the ground level from a walking bird.”
The team Felipe Astudillo + Fernando Contreras from Chile ranked third with an “architecture presented with volumes of elementary geometry, neutral and desaturated in color, to highlight the powerful color range of flora and fauna of the place. In environments with these characteristics, it is understood that the best architecture is solved discreetly, at the service of place and landscape.”
Two Gold Mentions rewarded with € 500 each follow in the ranking: the German team V|K whose “main idea was to cut the circle – a special geometric form for all inhabitants of earth, such as the globe itself – into four parts, to open this self-contained element to the visitors and equally give views outside. These limited views could help to focus on different parts of this breath-taking diversity out there“ and the Italian team SLIM with a project focused on the idea that “in a place where the presence of man is a privilege, architecture becomes the tool to gently mend the relationship with nature.”
The ranking is then made by 10 Honorable Mentions and 30 Finalist Mentions.
All the projects are available on YAC’s website: www.youngarchitectscompetitions.com
Gioia Romani, Filippo Marconi, Simone Passaro, Lorenzo Bacci
The Orbetello Oasis, a reserve to be protected, a natural space, a sacred space. An all-encompassing experience, an explosion of sensations, perceptions and new discoveries. The elements dedicated to the observation of fauna arise from the idea of continuing the experience of the walk. The visual glimpses of the landscape allow us to identify the volumes near the lagoon, the three elementary shapes allow us to understand their typology. Here, the wildlife walk is intimate and protected, slowly you reach the observation window, through which you can enjoy the outdoors and be amazed by the wonders of the wild life.
Weronika Klaus, Joanna Klejment, Aleksandra Kreft
The inspiration for the forms of the observation cabins came from the birds that live in the ecosystem of the lagoon. The shape of the point comes from the type of activity at which the bird will be observed. The watchtower takes its shape from a flying bird, the point at water level from a diving bird, and on the ground level from a walking bird. Visitors center was designed as a glass pavilion with walls offset to the inside. This protects the rooms against excessive sunlight. We have also designed sliding rattan blinds, which close the blocks when they are pulled apart the most and create pure cuboid forms.
Felipe Astudillo, Fernando Contreras
The architecture is presented with volumes of elementary geometry, neutral and desaturated in color, to highlight the powerful color range of flora and fauna of the place. In environments with these characteristics, it is understood that the best architecture is solved discreetly, at the service of place and landscape. The cabins are presented under three typologies that recognize and appropriate the elementary geometric shapes (circle, square, and triangle), representing and determining each one of them in the landscape. In this sense, the observation booths on the ground, elevated cabin, and cabin in the water are established as circles, squares, and triangles. From a material point of view, the cabins are understood as light, subtle objects with a heavy presence with the landscape. They are designed with three elements, steel for their primary structure, wood in their cladding, and glass in the openings to the landscape, either in walls or roofs.
In a silent place there is a need for silent architecture. In the Orbetello lagoon, nature dominates the landscape and architecture becomes a boundary element. The new WWF headquarters has two linear buildings lined with burnt wood, just like the trunks of the trees that surround the nature reserve and which have always lived in that place, in silence. They are two continuous elements interrupted by the gates that allow visitors to easily reach the clearing they guard.
WWF is – as the name suggests – a worldwide operating institution. it gives a voice to the smallest same as the biggest inhabitants of our world. and with their work they also make us notice that we only have this one world. Even if it is not possible for all of us to get access to every spot on earth they try to show us small ecosystems. Each of them, means the whole world to the inhabitants, the animals, the plants, the insects. one of this worlds is Orbetello. to get better insights to this unique world of Orbetello, this center and cabins are built.
Liang Cheng Chung, Han Ning Tsai, Zhi Ying Deng
Even with its long history dated back to the Etruscan time, the WWF competition area of Orbetello remains a place that evokes a wild fascination, a pristine and inhospitable nature. It is indeed an inhospitable land, yet, a special land so rich in faunal diversity that gains international importance.
The proposed design for the observation points and visitor center attempts to learn from the local farmhouse. In scale, dimension, material, they show in such context how mankind accommodates everyday necessities while engaging with the least possible intervention.
Anita Sadkova, Alexander Gaprindashvili, Arina Borovikova, Ariadna Avsakhova
(aletheia; Greek – “unconcealed”, “truth”) – that which can be revealed and cognized. Cognition is not an activity in the sense od an external action, but only an expression of perception or communication (to see, hear, touch, speak, write, indicate). Through this activity, aletheia is cognized or communicated, but the connections and the given, characterized by aletheia, always exist and “wait” to be revealed by man (see True).
Nature, with all its imprecision, is the most accurate of the sciences, the language of which is clear to everyone. The truth of Nature is unconcealed, it is self-evident, lies in the very contemplation. But the unstable pace of metropolitan areas and constant attention to detail took people away from the opportunity to contemplate.
To care is to understand and fall in love.
In an effort help understanding the ecosystem, the new WWF’s Oasis structures are inspired by the invisible flight pattern of Avians. The new structures use repetitive and morphing structures to represent the motion of bird’s wings during flight, which is normally not captured in real-time, this gives birds observation a different perspective. The activity of Bird Watching is nor proven to beneficial in inspiring an architectural design, similar to how it inspired the first known man-mase flying structure: the Glider by Leonardo da Vinci.
So how else does falling in love with our Nature help us?
The new structures are in grain with their rural surroundings. The typical pitched roof of Italian rural is frame by frame morphing into an inverted pitched roof, providing a dramatic highlight on more prominent programs of the building. Intensifying visitors’ senses towards the building.
Christian Szalay, Magdalena Mayr
The WWF is well known for its commitment to nature and its animal inhabitants. To live up to this commitment and attitude, any architectural intervention in nature is designed to be as gentle and reduced as possible. The existing buildings cannot be maintained as they are because their architecture cannot fulfill the functions of a contemporary visitor center. The existing brick wall is characteristic for this region but does not allow a relation to the outside space and its context. by rearranging the existing brick walls, a generous reference to the outside can be created without losing the character of the place. an open and transparent visitor center emerges. The roof terraces reinforce the relationship to the context and convey the idea of this place…
Bartłomiej Bruzda, Paweł Danielak
The main idea of the project was to design simple, balanced objects from natural materials. The architecture of individual observation points seems to be a background for the natural landscape. Objects do not impair the unique Orbetello ecosystem. Basic modular construction and use of natural materials like wooden CLT beams make buildings become elements of this ecosystem, they do not confront fauna and flora, giving it due respect. Designed complex build a natural link between nature and man. It introduces the observer to the very center of wildlife in a discreet way.
Christoffer Gade Olesen
The landscape around Orbetello lagoon is incredibly fascinating, especially because of the incredible fauna. The area is characterized by a very natural landscape that stands in sharp contrast to the man-made agricultural landscape found around the lagoon. The expression of the new architectures is based on this meeting between landscapes and their formal languages. With their austere expression, the new architecture in the area contrasts with the natural landscape, and it helps to highlight both the buildings but in particular also the landscape. The new observation points offer visitors to get up close to the fauna of the area with their unique locations at the edge of the lagoon. The three different observation points are located at varying distances from the lake shore, giving the visitor different experiences with nature.
The proposal is conceived as a linear programmatic path, a geometric spine along the coastline, where earth transitions into water. The route follows a simple geometry, as a natural continuation of the existing paths, and takes the form of a perforated and ever-changing limit that allows constant connections to the surroundings, while also enclosing the human movement, thus obscuring it from the birds’ view. The programme is lifted on wooden poles, in order to leave the water level and the soil undisturbed.
Ada Trybuchowicz, Aneta Kominiak, Jakub Koźlik, Paweł Swacha, Aleksandra Warowna
Where architecture introduces nature Wildlife and immersion in nature have always been anchors in re-discovering our humanity. In this fast-paced world overloaded by stimuli with little value we turn to wild nature to find rest, to let it influence and shape our senses. Experiencing nature involves our whole self: seeing, hearing, smelling, touching, sometimes even tasting. These sensations, when perceived by entire human body and mind, take us to a spiritual journey, spanning a transcendent perspective of an orderly universe.
Zhongyu Jiang, Yuqi Qin
The WWF observation cabin is supported by timber structure, consisting of multiple equilateral triangle timber frames inspired by the bird nesting. The symbolic graphic will contribute to the picturesque lagoon view and become a new landmark in the WWF oasis.
A series of standard modules are simultaneously defined by the graphic, which are prefabricated and adapted to reuse and recycle. Being flexible with the function, these modules can be installation in the open landscape, at observation points of various heights, and in the visitor center buildings.