The architects will design observation cabins and a visitor center.
Register: JUN/06/2021, Submit: JUN/09/2021, Eligibility: Students, graduated, freelance architects, designers, artists; individually, teams (any number of members, which can be from different countries and universities; at least one member aged 18 to 35), Fee: 60 EUR (MAR/15 – APR/11/2021), 80 EUR (APR/12 – MAJ/09/2021), 110 EUR (MAJ/10 – JUN/06/2021); +22% VAT, Awards: 1st Prize: 8,000 EUR, 2nd Prize: 4,000 EUR, 3rd Prize: 2,000 EUR, 2 Gold Mentions: 500 EUR each, 10 Honorable Mentions, 30 Finalists
Soil consumption, deforestation, poaching. If the numerous species living on Earth had a voice, there would be a deafening cry of pain rising from deserts, mountains, burning forests and polluted skies. In the fight for the protection of ecosystems there are no winners or losers. Yet, human beings seem to linger. While the delicate balances supporting this planet are eroding, anachronistic economic systems linger over reversing course of a race for a progress with no future and a wealth with no tomorrow. This is the awareness at the base of WWF’s initiatives. For sixty years, WWF has been giving voice to the silent cry of those who have none to ask for help. WWF’s oases were created to achieve this goal. They aim at protecting the abundance of this planet and the right to exist of every living creature.
However, there is no protection without knowledge. There is no conservation without access. Protecting means giving access to the wonders of Mother Nature. This is because only by enjoying the existing beauty one can fall in love with it and only by falling in love with it one can become an active player in defending our planet.
This is the goal of WWF Observation Cabins. This is YAC’s and WWF’s competition to support one of the most ancient WWF’s oases. Such competition aims at creating a place where to raise awareness, where visitors can reconcile with nature by enjoying and acknowledging the beauty that lies where human beings manage to remain silent and listen.
Thanks to this competition architects will have the opportunity to play a crucial role in defending the planet designing observation points and a visitors’ center. Such elements will stand for a perfect combination of species, training place and beauty. This place will be a space to protect and safeguard nature.
This competition aims to rediscover the main identity of architecture, namely being a “tamed” nature where human beings can be moved by bright sunsets, be amazed by flying pink flamingos or tremble at the freezing touch of west breezes.
The site of the competition is the Lagoon of Orbetello in Tuscany, Italy. More precisely, one should call it a “wetland”: an archetype that the modern era has rejected. This term has been associated with something insecure and unhealthy because wetlands have always been the place of bandits, fugitives, deadly fevers and necromancers. These are places that modernity tried to remove or limit by coining words as “reclamation” or “draining”. Yet, these are places that play a crucial role in protecting biodiversity.
The wait, the quest, the surprise. In the wonder of fleetingly and suddenly see wildlife one always finds oneself to be a child. This is maybe because the animal world is the most suggestive materialization of nature. It is sufficiently close to human beings to generate empathy but at the same time different enough to arouse astonishment. There is no child that did not love and fear animals. Likewise, there is no primitive civilization that did not deify them and made them the expression of human faults and virtues: the bad wolf, the smart fox, the gentle dove. Designing an architecture to deal with the animal world means taking inspiration from the most intimate and archetypical image. It means rediscover activities and emotions that the urban life has obfuscated and somehow made even more sublime and engaging. Climbing trees, scanning the horizon, enjoying the illusion of living in a primitive world or the adventure of a castaway will be some of the emotions that observation points will have to arouse. The design of highly evocative architectures is not the only aim of the competition. The project is also an opportunity to develop and understand the relationship between contemporary architecture and landscape. Designing architectures to live up to one of the most important natural oases worldwide does not necessarily mean giving up the visibility of one’s project. It means recognizing the significant expressiveness of architecture when it is perfectly integrated in its context. New interventions shall enhance the beauty and fascination of the landscape of the oasis. Here, the relationship between architecture and nature shall generate even more suggestive and picturesque views.
Hereby follow the functions that architects shall include in the project of the competition:
1. Observation points; architects shall design 3 different types of observation points dedicated to the observation of the lagoon fauna by professionals and visitors. Such points shall be designed to be duplicated and situated in different areas of the oasis:
I) On-the-ground observation point; this is the traditional “watch hut”. The structure shall be located at ground level, it has to be a one floor element and host maximum 10 people at a time to rest and observe. Moreover, it shall include one or more sighting windows at visitors’ eye level (1.6 meters height from the ground).
II) Raised observation point; this is the traditional “watchtower”. There can be maximum 2 aboveground floors (7 m maximum overall height). The structure shall enable the observation of maximum 5 people at a time on each floor. Moreover, such observation point shall include one or more sighting windows at visitors’ eye level (1.6 m height from the ground).
III) Observation point at water level; such structure can either be floating (therefore moving) or fixed. It shall ensure the observation of the lagoon from the level of the water. This is the least traditional typology since the height of the observation window shall be maximum 30 cm above the ground. Consequently, the structure can either be situated at ground level (so that visitors can lie) or below ground level (so that visitors can enjoy the view from the window by sitting or even standing). The structure shall be properly waterproofed and enable the observation of maximum 5 people at a time.
With regard to observation points:
- There is no need to camouflage them in nature: fauna is not scared by still objects;
- Differently, they have to ensure the camouflage of observers since fauna can be intimidated by seeing people moving;
- The observation windows must be equipped with shutters or systems to close them;
- All three typologies must be equipped with roof structures;
- There are no limitations regarding typology, shape, style or materials to design the observation point as long as an easy maintenance and a positive relationship (harmonious or disharmonic) with the lagoon are ensured;
- They can be situated anywhere along the coast of the lagoon (area A).
2. Visitors’ center: it will be positioned backward from the observation points. It shall provide a series of services for the oasis’ visitors. It will not be as immersed in wildlife as the observation points. However, the visitors’ center shall be closely connected with landscape in order tobseize the rareryet possibleobservation opportunities provided by the surrounding nature. The center shall include:
I) Reception/ticket office: this will be the access place to the oasis;
II) Training center: this space will host meetings and training sessions;
III) Bookshop: it will sell the typical products of the oasis together with naturalist publications and/or WWF’s merchandising;
IV) Exhibition space: this place will host temporary exhibitions and describe the story and/or features of the oasis;
V) Guest house + restaurant: here visitors will have the opportunity to experience the hospitality of Maremma surrounded by the beauty of one the first WWF’s oases.
In relation to the visitors’ center, architects shall take the following constraints into account:
- Dimensions of previous functions will not be provided. Architects can choose how much space to dedicate to each element of the program.
- The new architectures hosting functions I), II), III), IV) can take up the site of area B maximum;
- The new architectures hosting functions IV and V can take up the site of area C maximum;
- Existing architectures will be demolished. Therefore, architects shall not take them into account for the design;
- New architectures shall be 6 meters tall maximum;
- Excavations or underground interventions are not admitted;
- Any arrangement/furniture/equipment of external areas will be admitted;
- Facilities shall be accessible to visitors with reduced mobility and ensure environmental compatibility;
- All functions shall be efficient but also opened to the outside in order to offer visitors views and sightings including from the visitors’ center.
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