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Wandlebury Country Park Birdhide- an experiment in sustainability

A very busy birdhide in Cambridge preserves both the memory and physical structure of an event organised by State of Design at the Corn Exchange, Cambridge.

In a context in which more than half of the world’s irreplaceable rainforests have been destroyed in the last 50 years and 50,000 wildlife species a year become extinct because of deforestation, the event organised by State of Design and Forests Monitor at the Corn Exchange as part of Architecture Week and Cambridge Environment Week with help from numerous local business, institutions and artists, was intended to increase awarenes on the devastating effects that illegal deforestation has on indiginous communities and ultimately on all of us. The goal of the event was to help the general public source and think responsibly about the use timber.

The art installation at the heart of this event was itself designed as an example of how timber can be sourced and assembled responsibly with future reuse in mind, and the mobilisation and involvement of so many passionate individuals and organisations was to demonstrate that, with will and determination, sustainable development is indeed achievable with the right support from local government and local communities for their own benefit and education.

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The Cambridge City Council has indeed awarded two Cambridge Sustainable City Grants towards the exhibition and the birdhide project but also offered other forms of much needed support and encouragement. As architects and organisers of the event almost 6 years ago, we are now delighted to see that the structure designed by us has not only met its original purpose but has also been adapted for long-term use as a birdhide in its wonderful new setting at Wandlebury Country Park.

In doing so, Cambridge Past Present and Future has helped us meet our ultimate goal of creating a truly sustainable product for the enjoyment of many generations to come.

MASTER Bird hide - SPONSOR panel
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An extract from Cambrige Past Present Future press release:

A two storey timber structure designed by Cambridge based architecture practice, State of Design Ltd., for an exhibition held at the Corn Exchange as part of Architecture Week 2006 has been donated to us. The architect, Sabin Anca, has worked with us to adapt his structure and produce the plans for a bird hide. As well as re-using the timber frame, sustainability principles will be applied where possible in building the hide - timber is to be sourced from managed woodlands, an environmentally friendly paint finish will be used, part of the roof structure will be a 'green roof' and rain water run off will be collected into a water butt to top up a birdbath/drinking pool. The ground floor will be fully accessible for disabled people. Outside there will be an information board - detailing birdlife, habitats and sustainability issues and listing the hide sponsors. As well as providing a hidden observation point for birdwatching for visitors and school groups, the hide, will also provide a shelter from the elements in the depth of the Park, and a lookout from which to enjoy views over woodland and meadows. The site for the hide in the woodland copse on the northern edge of Varley's Field, just off the main perimeter path, has been carefully chosen to provide an observation point for the Park's woodland and meadow bird species. It will look out over a hazel copse, woodland edge planting, the 'Arable Patch', and the grazed chalk-rich grassland of Varley's Field. In time log piles, dense shrubby areas and climbing plants screening the building and fencing, and nest boxes will attract birds to feed and, hopefully nest at a suitable observation distance.

The Organisers

State of Design is an architecture and theatre design practice with a strong environmental and sustainability agenda, placing great importance on the use of local resources and developing strong and lasting local partnerships.

Forests Monitor is a non-governmental organisation with consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, researching the forest sector and promoting sustainable livelihoods.

Contributing Organisations

State of Design and Forests Monitor wish to thank to the following organizations for their invaluable support in bringing this event to life.

  • Andrew Firebrace Partnership Engineers

  • Bedford Timber Preservation

  • Bird Life International

  • Cambridge Environment Initiative

  • Cambridge University Botanic Gardens

  • Cambridge University Press

  • Carisma Communications

  • Community Development Department, Cambridge City Council

  • Corn Exchange, Cambridge

  • Department of Architecture, Cambridge University

  • Department of Land Economy, Cambridge University

  • Environment Department, Cambridge City Council

  • Fauna and Flora International

  • Juwelie

  • Orangerie

  • QAV

  • Royal institute of British Architects (RIBA East)

  • The Rainforest Foundation

  • The Snug

  • Timber Trade Federation

  • Travis & Perkins

Individual Contributors

Speakers (17 June, 10.30am-1pm)

  • Sabin Anca, Director, State of Design Ltd

  • Prof lan Hodge, Head of the Department of Land Economy, Cambridge University

  • Andy Roby, Head of Environment and Corporate Social Responsibility, Timber Trade Federation

  • Silas Siakor, Director, Sustainable Development Institute, Liberia, Goldman Environmental Prize recipient Africa, 2006

  • Dr Tim Upson, Superintendent, Cambridge University Botanic Garden

  • Stuart Wilson, Director, Forests Monitor


  • Claerwen James, painter

  • Esther Joseph, sculptor

  • James Maberly, sculptor

  • Thomas Morley, photographer

  • Chantal Tunacliffe, print artist

Production Team

  • Sabin Anca, event management and design

  • Ben Carr, soundscape design and installation

  • Nancy Minshull-Beech, video production

  • Chris Norton, technical co-ordinator

  • Laura Somerville, event promotion

  • Stuart Wilson, event management

The organizers would like to thank to Birgit Berry, Rosemary Brown, Joan Booth, Dr Peter Carl, Carry Crook, Sally Daultry, the Mayor of Cambridge Cllr Robert Dryden, Elie Vanulassaer, Chris Freeman, Dr Anna Gannon, Miranda Housden, Peter Jordan, Dr Phil Meyler, Julia Nor-ton, Prof John Parker, Liz Reeve, Prof Koen Steemers, Zoe Svendsen, Dr Meg Tait, Chairman of RIBA East David Thompson, Helen Witherington and all others whose roles at critical times have positively influenced the course of the event.

The slideshow projected onto the 4 large projection screens integrated into the Corn Exchange installation. Sound track courtesy of Ben Carr. Photography courtesy of Forests Monitor.

Learn more about State of Design's sustainable agenda and our commitment to energy efficiency in the buildings we design on the Sustainability page of this website.

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