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Eleanor Rennie reveals Chinese twitcher tower

Eleanor Rennie Architects has unveiled its proposals for a £500,000 bird observation tower in Fujin Wetland, China

The 14m-tall scheme for the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust and the Sanhuanpao Nature Reserve Management Authority is described by the practice as ‘two slanted conical forms’ sitting on top of each other and ‘leaning out over the water’.

The studio, which emerged from Glowacka Rennie Architects, is working with engineer Structure Workshop on the timber-clad project in eastern China.

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The architect’s view

The tower, whose purpose is a lookout for observing some of the 185 bird species that inhabit the wetland, is wholly surrounded by reeds and water.

It is a 14 m tall structure which sits at the end of a journey of timber boardwalks.  The tower takes the form of two slanted conical forms, one above the other, leaning out over the water.  These pure conical forms have been cut away to provide large panoramic viewing areas for communal viewing, oriented at first and second floor towards key views of the wetland.  

The very top of the upper cone has been truncated to provide an oculus and a privileged view for only a few individuals at a time.  The overlapping forms provide shelter from the sun and rain while keeping the observer in shadow and avoiding visual disturbance for the birds. Smaller shuttered apertures for individual birdwatching have also been cut out of the timber cladding providing areas to lookout and rest a pair of binoculars.

The timber cladding was inspired by the wings of the crane, a species that inhabits the wetland and is also a symbol of longevity and happiness in China.  

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