Animal Wall by Gitta Gschwendtner



London designer Gitta Gschwendtner has completed a wall that incorporates 1,000 nest boxes for birds and bats in Cardiff Bay, UK.


The 50 metre long wall separates a residential development of 1,00o new apartments from the adjacent riverside path.


It includes four types of boxes to accommodate different species of birds and bats.


More about Gitta Gschwendtner on Dezeen:

Bag stools
Wellcome Collection exhibition design
Flame lamps

Here's some more information from commissioning agency Safle:


Animal Wall
a site-specific Ecological Artwork

Charles Church Developments, WYG Planning & Design and Safle are pleased to announce the completion of ‘Animal Wall’, a site-specific ecological artwork by artist Gitta Gschwendtner.

‘Animal Wall’ is part of a 50 metre long wall, running along the south-western edge of ‘Strata’, a new residential development in Century Wharf, Cardiff Bay. It can be accessed via the riverside walk leading from Clarence Road towards the city centre.

The environmental impact of Cardiff Bay’s extensive development is an ongoing concern and various measures have been put in place to mitigate this. The approach taken for this artwork is to assist wildlife in the area and encourage further habitation. The new housing development of Century Wharf which provides approximately 1,000 new apartments and houses; Gschwendtner’s design for the ’Animal Wall’ will match this with about 1,000 nest boxes for different bird and bat species, integrated into the fabric of the wall that separates the development from the adjacent public riverside walk.

Through consultation with an ecologist, four different sized animal homes have been developed, which have been integrated into a custom-made woodcrete cladding to provide an architecturally stunning and environmentally sensitive wall for Century Wharf. The animal wall also transcends the barrier between the private and the public, with the wildlife roaming freely between the two areas.

Artist Gitta Gschwendtner said: “Following the decline of the natural habitat in Cardiff Bay over recent years, I was very interested in exploring ways to introduce nesting places in my artwork for Century Wharf. I have loved the opportunity to match the number of flats created in the housing development with the number of bird and bat boxes in my design for the Animal Wall.” Century Wharf’s architect, Jonathan Vining of WYG Planning & Design, said: “It has been a real pleasure collaborating with Gitta on this project and her site-specific design not only helps to enhance Century Wharf’s already strong sense of place, but also provides a modern echo of William Burges’s animal wall at Bute Park just up the river.”

Wiard Sterk, Safle’s Executive Director said: “Over our many years of involvement in the development of Cardiff Bay, we have found various ways of integrating art, contributing aesthetically as well as practically. In this project Gschwendtner has found yet a further innovative expression of artistic engagement in the public realm and this commission by Charles Church Developments is a significant contribution to the overall collection of works in Cardiff”.

We should like to extend out deepest gratitude for the outstanding work undertaken by Joyner Group and Consolidated Specialist PreCast Products in realising the ‘Animal Wall’ and to David Clements Ecology for their invaluable advice and guidance.

Artist Gitta Gschwendtner

Born in Germany in 1972, Gitta Gschwendtner moved to London in the early 1990s to study design at Central Saint Martins, Kingston University, and the Royal College of Art. Following graduation from the RCA furniture MA in 1998, she set up her independent design studio for furniture, interior design, exhibition design and public art projects for cultural, arts and corporate clients. Gitta Gschwendtner’s studio focuses on conceptually rigorous, visually intriguing, functional designs across several disciplines.

Client Charles Church

Charles Church Developments is a wholly owned subsidiary of Persimmon Homes and plc and consists of ten regional offices covering England, Scotland
and Wales. Charles Church is the premium brand for Persimmon and provides a range of exclusive homes in both traditional and contemporary styles. Strata, the sixth and final phase of the exceptional Century Wharf development in Cardiff Bay, was completed in early 2009.

WYG Planning & Design

Cardiff-based WYG Planning & Design, the architect for the Century Wharf development, specialises in contemporary housing design. It has completed an extensive portfolio of high-quality projects for both public and private sector clients, including: multi-storey apartment blocks, retirement villages, residential care homes, affordable housing, extra-care schemes, almshouses, estate housing and houses for individual
clients, many within historic or sensitive settings.

Commissioning Agency – Safle

Safle’s mission is to promote, advocate, develop and implement art in the urban and rural public realm, throughout Wales and internationally. Through its many programmes and methods of working, it strives to enliven and regenerate public spaces, support and initiate sustainability and educate and inspire local communities. Safle works in collaboration with artists, architects, residents, communities, public authorities and the private sector responding to the increasing demand for better public spaces.

Posted on Friday August 28th 2009 at 11:30 am by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • don’t see any of its inhabitants moving in so far!!

  • clint eastwood

    good, bad & dirty
    gonna be lots of guano

  • I don’t want to be around when the birds… and specially the bats… find this place and decide to move in. Iiijjj!

  • angry catalan

    It’s almost hilarious to see the bland facade of the flats next to this, isn’t it.

  • suffin

    I love it.

  • price

    bird poo is white. this is black.

  • mike

    nice smell coming soon! urghhh

  • I actually think it will look much cooler with the guano.

  • Michelle

    In some cultures, the bird guano is collected and sold as highly coveted fertilizer. Aesthetically, it does seem an issue that it’s black, and guano is usually white. Also the article does not mention if these species like to live next to each other. Also, they should have provided the materials for their nests. It’s not enough to provide a home since you’ve paved over their raw materials like grasses, twigs, and so on.

  • Dave

    we need creative people like this designing more things in our built environment.

  • mark burnham

    I am all for constructed habitats, but there’s no way you’re putting 1000 bird/bat nests on my urban street.

  • Michael

    Just imagine that you are taking a walk after dinner with your family and find tons of bats flying around……what!! is batman coming here?

  • sophia

    As an intervention it is quite interesting and only time wiil tell how successful it is in terms of becoming homes for native species. As for the idea of urban bat colonies, the one in my hometown is pretty amazing:

  • Speaking about bats. This looks like a new jail in Gotham city.
    Can all these birds & bats live together? I know Batman & Robin did, but in real life?

  • tanya telford – T

    i wish there where more photos of this to explain its location & surrounding environment,

  • This is really nice.

    (Before any haters jump on the blatantly obvious negative statement wagon) I can’t imagine that bird / bat dung has not been considered as an intentional feature. I agree with Luis – I think the white dung’ll look good too. Very graphic.

  • onvn

    Actually, It’d be interesting as to what it’ll look like after it’s been covered wth bird poo.. The textures could be amazing.. wouldn’t want to stand near it though..! Photos would be enough!

  • Matthias

    A LeCorbirdsieur, Cardiff Unit.

    Crime rate among the inhabitants is going to be literally sky high.

  • Goano bowls, collect the whole set!

  • yrag

    To me, though it looks somewhat grim, I find it has a real power and modern beauty in it’s sculptural design.

  • a very powerful design… quite stunning the final impression it makes….

  • A quick note to all of you worried about bird poo, this is obviously something that has come up during the project as well. I have worked very closely with an ecologist on this project and as it turns out, birds and bats keep the area around their nest very tidy, dropping attract predators.

  • tiffany

    The idea is super
    but the way executed…. like a socialistic concrete apartment block.
    But hey, at that time people where happy with those apartment blocks. Maybe the birds are happy with this one. And they get better over time…

  • designgurunyc

    a wonderful idea , but had more research gone into it it may have had more real use. I question the motive of design over function and wonder really if the spreading and mixing of all the designs of boxes was a wise one. Time will tell which boxes are inhabited and which species actually tolerate each other. In my (limited!) experience of nature, species like to flock with their own sort, and within that ,even, hold some sort of territory dear to them. I hope this has all been considered in the final build and that the species were actually considered more important than the way it looked.

  • Some of the comments above are very ill-informed and are clearly not from ecologists! Fouling was considered, but as Gitta says (above) nesting birds typically do not foul around their nests as this attracts predators: the adults actually collect the chicks’ droppings and dump these well away from the nest site. Bat guano is very small, dry, blackish, inconspicuous and has no detectable odour, reducing to dust very quickly, so is unlikely to be noticeable. The probability of adverse smell or appearance around the wall is very low. Mixed nesting by birds (and roosting by bats) is commonplace – just look at your nearest woodland or maritime cliff-face (the wall was designed with the latter in mind). It is not expected that all of the boxes will be used in any one year, and a proportion are likely to be used on rotation in each year. It is not necessary to provide nesting materials to ensure uptake – who do you think goes around providing nesting materials in the wild? Take-up of new nesting boxes may not occur for up to five years or more after installation, usually after a suitable period of weathering. The boxes will be monitored to see what the actual take-up by birds and bats is.

  • Oh, and yes, we did carry our a research review to assess what species were likely to occur in the area, both historically and in the present day, and the design parameters of the boxes (shape, dimensions, hole diameter etc) were specified for individual species which occur in the area today and which might reasonably be expected to use a nest-box in this location and situation.

  • Joseph

    very interesting, aestheticaly pleasing, architecturaly evocative I think, stands out well but I wouldnt like to live near birds in a built up context, I prefers mixing birds with trees like here in Johannesburg. The Bats make me run away even further..No thank you, but none the less its architectecturaly atractive.

  • Surveys undertaken in 2013 showed that the animal wall was being used by a good variety of species for nesting or roosting including roosting common and soprano pipistrelle bats and nesting house sparrow, blue tit, great tit and robin.

  • Aaron

    This is great!

  • Frank Zagarino

    This is gorgeous! Communal animal living in cities! Monumental architecture for tiny creatures. And droppings covering the walls and pavement, it’ll be like a painting. I hope it works and if it does I hope to find more photos of it online soon.