Aviary by Group8 with Guscetti & Tournier
structural engineering



Swiss architects Group8 with Guscetti & Tournier structural engineering are building this aviary in the Bois de la Bâtie public park in Geneva, Switzerland.


Located on an island, the aviary consists of a concrete roof supported by tree-like metal columns, which also form perches for the birds.


More about Group8 on Dezeen in our previous story, New Andermat.


The following information is from Group8:



In the history of zoos and animal Parks, the aviary certainly holds a particular place. Frei Otto’s Munich Aviary and Cedric Price’s in the London zoo are two of the most significant and complex examples. Aviaries are about verticality and flying, they are about three-dimensional space, they are about defining spaces for birds, not for humans.


Two more approaches are essential to the design of this peculiar house: the difficult ethical issue of caging, putting animals in a container partially for the pleasure of the visitors, and that of creating a nature-simulator in order to reproduce some kind of natural-like environment.


These different points have initiated the base of the reflections for the design of a new aviary in Geneva. The first question was where to position the new 'building' on the site.


We chose to install the aviary on an existing small, artificial island to limit access to visitors. The visitors have a strict, limited pathway to go through whereas the birds flow freely in the island, either in the interior or the exterior of the new aviary.


To avoid any kind of determined and one way view of the birds - any central view giving a direct approach to the birds - we have worked on a free non-synthetic form, a volume difficult to apprehend and a sinusoidal path for the visitors.


The final shape is constructed from an abstract analysis of the existing trees surrounding the site. This first analysis has given the shape of the slab which will roof the birds. The slab is then taken 10m high to constitute an abstract roof.


To support the concrete slab, we have imagined and worked out a solution of tree-like pillars. These tree-like pillars function as space-structuring as well as the support for the birds.

An important static and engineering work has been done in order to build up the structure calculations. Following structural experimentations initiated by Gaudi and perfected by Frei Otto, the calculation method has consisted of going from intuition and free form to rationalism and modularity.

This has been done mainly by model analysis. Navigating constantly between these two parameters has been crucial to the project. Every one of the 16 pillars is unique, creating thus a very precise and fragile static equilibrium following the polygon of forces, as a bird standing on a small branch.

Posted on Thursday July 10th 2008 at 3:31 pm by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • sam

    a nice solution.

  • Paul, Yorkshire

    Nice architecture,
    shame they couldnt give the birds real trees though.

  • edward

    The renderings look great. What will the mesh screening really look like?
    Follow up please.

  • acevedo

    its nice to see some gaudi reemergence.

  • cpcp

    “the difficult ethical issue of caging, putting animals in a container partially for the pleasure of the visitors, and that of creating a nature-simulator in order to reproduce some kind of natural-like environment”

    – continuous/seamless wire walls – nice
    – branch like supporting structure – great!
    – concrete roof? WHY WHY WHY??? what a huge solid shadow this will create. and how dark will the cieleing be for the birds. what about some kind of perforated steel sheet panels to let the light shine through? like a leaf like pattern or something. even something like this
    http://www.dezeen.com/2008/07/09/technicolor-bloom-by-brennan-buck/ which would help shape the roofing, and creat an interesting shadow over the walkways…. feeling much more like walking through a forest

    why why why….

  • leandro locsin

    whoa! branches in tubular steel!! how animal-friendly is that ?

    you can fool a bird’s eyes, but you can never full the sense of touch of its claws.

    for birds, its agonizing enough to be trapped in a net, how do you expect them to be happy with steel ?? if the bed in your home is made out of cotton, imagine that a bird’s bed is a branch of hard steel that is stiff, doesnt move with the wind, etc.

    i get the freakin idea of randomness, how the weight is transferred beautifully, but lets not test this idea on animals man!

    arent we happy we are not birds?

    this such a cold architecture. man in its greatest state of foolishness.

    • Jhermin

      I can’t imagine anything worse than the feel of polished steel under a birds claw.

  • the big black & white zebra

    Nice one….
    Elegant trees but why the roof?…

  • Ciao Ciao

    The most important, who’s the man next to the tree???

  • sam

    so they don’t fly out, silly. ;)

  • gaque

    this is great. but i agree with the concrete roof comment…its just too much of a shadow.

    steel seems like a bad choice. why not wood?

  • xtiaan

    word up acevedo

    upsidedown gaudi type sagrada de familia model, nice

    presumably the birds need a roof cos they are hanging out on tubular steel all day which lacks the protecton given by real tress with leaves and stuff.
    So why not give the poor fakkers some trees?!!!

    I think Swiss architects group8 should have to live 6 months in their enviroment to see if it works, after all the cosmetics industry can no longer resort to animal testing, why should architects be any different?

    • johnny

      I agree with you completely. Or replace absolutely everything in their house and anything else they come into contact with throughout the day and see if they still think it was such a great idea. I really do hope they not going to put birds in this thing.

  • Keith Siu

    Can anybody tell me what mesh they use for the perimeter?

  • warren

    I understand the appeal of this project from an architectural point of view… Sculpture like structure that supports the roof and allows for a free facade.

    This also imitates a birds natural environment and it all really does look great. If I was watching something like Sci-fi and saw something like this, I would be impressed. But this is the real world man and this concept is just pure animal cruelty. The concept to free up the facades is just bogus. It would of been a million times better to just create a external steel structure and have trees forming the habitat. Besides the mesh is so lightweight the members could all be pretty tiny.

    To put a bird in something like this is just ridiculous and absolutely cruel. The maintenance on this thing will be ridiculous and it’s people like you who give us architects a bad name.