Calgary-based Studio North has created the Birdhut, a tree house that is meant to be used by humans and birds. Immersed in the tree canopy in Windermere, a small village in western Canada‘s Columbia Valley, the hut accommodates two people, twelve varieties of birds, and whatever inquisitive critters come by to visit.
The materials, form, and orientation of the Birdhut were designed to offer nesting opportunities for as wide a variety of local birds as possible. The pileated woodpecker for instance, is a larger bird that seeks out a nesting space 15 to 25 feet above ground, with a 4” entry hole and an 8”x8”x24” cavity.
The warbler, on the other hand, is a smaller bird that typically nests 9 feet above ground with a 1 1/8” hole and a 4”x4”x6” cavity. Considering both the largest and smallest varieties of local birds, the hut sits 9 feet off the ground, with its peak at 20 feet above the ground and birdhouses scattered in between. Mimicking the process of a bird building a nest, the materials of the Birdhut were scavenged from the immediate surroundings.
The hut is nestled in a cross-braced structure built of sturdy lodgepole pines foraged from a nearby forest recently ravaged by fire. The platform and cladding for the hut is made of planks reclaimed from an old cabin deck. The front facade is clad with western red cedar shingles cut with a custom rounded profile, the radius which were determined by the size of the birdhouse opening and the width of each shingle.
To give a sense of being in the canopy of the trees, the roof of the Birdhut disappears with clear 8mm polycarbonate panels. As a result, the space is passively heated by the sun, acting as a kind of greenhouse that is passively ventilated by two circle windows that punctuate the facade and the entry. A bridge connects the birdhut to the hillside and a stone path leads down to a natural spring and campfire.
all images © Mark Erickson