Pape Bird Observation Tower Competition


The Pape Bird Observation Tower design competition asked participants to create designs for a new bird observation tower to replace the previous one that was destroyed by lightning. Located in the Pape Nature Park reserve in the southwest region of Latvia on Lake Pape, this wetlands area includes rare biotopes and internationally significant nesting and migrating birds. The design should be functional and sensitive to the environment, with the potential to serve as a landmark. Although the competition has no set budget, entry designs are recommended to be in keeping with a modest budget of US $50,000 to $100,000. The competition is hosted by Bee Breeders in collaboration with the support of the Pasaules Dabas Fonds and the World Wildlife Fund.


The jury consisted of a core jury panel as well as a consultative jury panel.


“Nature paint the best part of the picture, carves the best part of the statue, builds the best part of the house, and speaks to the best part of the oration.” – Ralph Waldo Emmerson

NOVĒROŠANA (OBSERVATION) finds inspiration in ideas of concealment and revelation; observation and connection. The design gently fans its wings and lifts the visitor from the earth to the sky to better understand the complexity and expanse of the natural systems around them.

The architectural expression of the screen walls is reminiscent of marsh grasses. They compress and open along the path to the viewing platforms much the same way wings move air around the body of a bird. At the upper viewing platforms visitors can slide screen members to open views to the sky or conversely tighten them to conceal their presence. The lower viewing platform brings visitors closer to the water and marsh grasses and doubles as a canoe launch.

The construction is comprised of wood screenings and decking supported by a sturdy and resilient structural system that maintains delicate contact with the earth.

Visitors approach NOVĒROŠANA on foot along a path leading to Lake Pape where they transition to a wooden walk. Here they are lifted above the marsh grasses and can choose to follow the walk to the elevated platform for birding or remain on the lower platform for canoe access and habitat observation.

NOVĒROŠANA’S construction can be executed with minimal impact to the environment. Prefabricated structure and components can be shipped and assembled on site. The materials shown top to bottom: Siberian Larch; Siberian Larch (scored surface); steel; and concrete.

Core design team: Sam Burner, Jordan Gray, Erika Jolleys, and Albert McDonald.