THE BRIDGE OF BIRDS
Architecture Masters Thesis
National University of Singapore under Prof. Tsuto Sakamoto
IMAGINE a dystopian future where the birds rule the roost.
Man and bird have fought for decades over territory- with man winning and destroying acres and acres of once lush foliage. Now the birds are fighting back.
How can architecture negotiate the conflict between a vengeful force of nature and the hungry consumer, restoring balance and creating a reciprocal, self-sustaining system?
Let’s set the scene. It’s 7 o’clock in Singapore’s busiest shopping district, Orchard Road. Except the sounds you hear aren’t from the crowds of people, or the buskers. Or the music from the malls.
It’s the birds.
It’s hundreds of thousands of birds. Screaming above your head, their cries penetrating the heavy, tropical air. Looking up, you can barely make out the shapes as the tiny winged creatures form huge flocks that swarm the trees across the boulevard.
It doesn’t feel real, like something out of a Hitchcock movie. Except it’s not. It’s happening.
They’re out there.
Overlaying existing maps of Singapore, park connectors,
and network of known home trees of Javan Mynas
The Bridge of Birds explores the conflict of territories between consumerism, mankind, and nature, and looks to an alternative approach to easing the tension through compensation and repentance.
The thesis posits that the chaos and unrest that the birds exhibit along Orchard Road and in the other roosting sites in Singapore are signifiers of the imbalance and loss of territory over the years, and require now a new kind of architecture and system to be implemented in order to appease the birds and restore peace and balance.
The phenomenon has developed over the past decade or so, as these birds have been increasing in number, resulting in financial loss and hygiene issues in different parts of Singapore- most significantly in the main shopping district, Orchard Road where the issue is most prominent. Stimulated by light and noise, these birds have run rampant with the rise in urbanisation- inextricably linked with humanity, yet displaced with no place in our world to call their own.
Through acts of “repentance” on the part of the consumers, who are now required to give back to nature via activities such as farming and by relinquishing territory to the birds, humanity plays a role in supporting a new ecosystem through interaction with the architecture and its programmes.
and energy generating activities like treadmills and spin cycles
For this thesis, a prototype is designed for the new system to be set in place and to grow along the network of existing and future park connectors in Singapore. The system makes use of anaerobic digesters and the use of waste produced by the birds and people, coming together to produce biofuel that can support the processes such as farming, pottery and research on the birds, creating an educational aspect that would allow future generations to move forward in pushing this relationship between urbanisation and nature.
Ultimately, this thesis aims to offer an alternative perspective on the contingent; a speculative take on a marginalized aspect of nature and society, and seeks to explore a form of subnature often excluded and considered a hindrance in the pursuit of urban development and aesthetics in architecture, while attempting to restore a balance through the engineering of a new speculative ecosystem.
Cycle of energy and flow of user activity - waste transformed into fuel to power the building,
used to giving back to nature through farming and other sustainable activities,
as well as research development the birds.
Dystopia or Utopia? Giving back to nature and creating balance - but at what cost?
Long Elevation along the canal
Overall plan along the canal
The shades of pink used in the graphic expression of the design were chosen both as a functional and aesthetic aid to the story- magenta lights are used to speed up plant growth and are now commonly found in hydroponic farms. Bright lights have also been found to be attractive to these Javan Mynas, which now associate light and noise with human activity- the source of their food.
The color also denotes a playful and light-hearted atmosphere- ironic considering the dystopian nature of the project and the serious implications of the thesis.
Magenta LED grow lights for rapid plant growth