Glass manufacturer looks to biomimicry for design inspiration
A lookout tower in Lindisfarne is the first UK building to use a new glazing designed to save the lives of birds.
Each year millions of birds die by crashing into glazed buildings but Ornilux – a new glazing developed by German manufacturer Arnold Glas – is intended to make the lookout tower and visitor centre at Lindisfarne bird-friendly.
The glazing system joins a growing trend in product design towards biomimicry, where technology simulates designs found in nature. In this instance, Arnold Glas has taken inspiration from the orb-weaver spider whose webs reflect UV light to prevent birds flying through them. A mesh of lines coated onto the glass - barely visible to humans but also reflecting UV radiation - alerts birds to its presence.
The Max Planck Institute for Ornithology supported the development of Ornilux by conducting extensive field testing in the Radolfzell Bird Sanctuary to investigate a bird’s ability to recognize glass sheeting.
Of 108 test flights featuring 19 species of wild birds, 82 flew towards the plain glass and avoided the Ornilux. The product is claimed, therefore, to reduce bird collisions by 76%.
Based on these test results, Ornilux is now recommended to minimize the effects of bird-strike in buildings with large glass installations – without requiring the use of visual barriers which are disturbing to people.
Previous attempts to divert birds included attatching stickers to glazing. However Swiss tests have shown these to have almost no effect, so they have been taken off the market. The UV coating makes no reduction in the glazing transparency.
Ornilux is impact-resistant and insulated and can be used in all window or facade installations, just like conventional insulated glass.
Euan Millar, director of Icosis, the architects who designed the Lindisfarne centre, said: ‘With so much glass in the tower we were concerned with birds striking the glazing in particular. The Ornilux product should help to protect the birds and ensure the native wildlife is unaffected by the new visitor facility.’