Gdynia school wall transforms into massive bird house
A primary school in Gdynia has come to the attention of the design and environmental press after a part of its premises was handed over for the use of a housing estate… built specifically for small birds.
Designed as part of the Traffic Design Biennale for Design & Urban Art, the project was created on the side of Primary School No. 23 in the Św. Maksymiliana district of the coastal city and features a mural of a tree as well as a dozen bird boxes attached to the wall.
“Old trees often look far from perfect,” say Traffic Design, the studio that implemented the project. “They have holes, scars, cracks, dry branches and infections. But they are host to thousands of species, including birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, insects, fungi and plants. They ensure their survival and can be considered a super-organism.”
Inspired by this way of thinking, Małgorzata Gurowska and Joanna Ruszczyk designed the mural, adding space for several birdhouses with the aim of attracting sparrows, swifts and tits.
“In summer,” say Gurowska and Ruszczyk, “these birds feed on mosquitos and a single tit family can eat up to 75 kilograms of insects per season.”
Made possible through a multi-faceted partnership with Gdynia City Hall, the LSCB scaffolding company, MKW Pracownia who built the birdboxes, and Flugger who supplied the paints, the pioneering project was specifically designed to slot seamlessly into the city’s aesthetic fabric whilst also fulfilling a more practical role as a safe haven for birds.
“In recent decades, small birds have found themselves in trouble and their numbers are declining,” continue Gurowska and Ruszczyk. “There is less food such as insects and seeds for them to survive on, while bushes and old trees that they use for shelter have also continued to disappear. Furthermore, small birds are threatened by predators – mainly cats and dogs – and have also born the brunt of air and surface pollution. With this in mind, we prepared a safe housing estate for them.”
“The birdhouses were built after consulting the Faculty of Biology at the University of Gdańsk,” adds Monika Domańska of Traffic Design, “and it was thanks to talking to ornithologists that we were able to learn, among other things, what kind of conditions we should provide the birds, and how to ensure they had access to food as well as guarantee their safety from other animals.”
Neither has the location proved incidental with the authors stressing that the installation can also be used for educational purposes by school children as part of their biology classes.
Moreover, it is hoped that the symbolic nature of the project will also remind pupils of the importance of nurturing and protecting the environment in condensed urban spaces.
This, however, promises to be just one of the first initiatives to be undertaken outside of Gdynia’s city centre by the Biennale for Design & Urban Art. In August, the foundation published a short story called Fog by Salcia Hałas; marketed as “an independent literary work devoted to the Św. Maksymiliana area”, it has already received widespread praise, and a variety of other cultural projects are set to follow.
Previously, Traffic Design have been credited with reenergizing Gdynia city centre by installing smart, retro-themed store signs across the town, painting a slew of murals and also reviving and restoring small urban details such as pre-war, modernist gates, pavements and lights.