Bird-watching pavilions by Plant Architect made of weathering steel
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Bird-watching pavilions by Plant Architect are made from perforated plates of weathering steel

Plant Architect has used weathering steel to create a series of wing-like structures for bird watchers in a Toronto park, which are punctured with both patterns and information about local species (+ slideshow).

Located in the city's East Point Park Bird Sanctuary, structures were completed by the Toronto-based firm as part of a local initiative to protect and promote bird habitats.

The scheme comprises a main viewing space, a bird blind and two entry signposts. These are all made from weathering steel – the pre-rusted metal often referred to by the brand name Corten.

Viewpoint architecture: East Point Park bird sanctuary weathering steel pavilions by Plant Architect in Toronto, Ontario Canada

Each of the structures is made in a different folded form, intended to be "evocative of flight", and has information related to the local environment and wildlife cut into the steel surfaces.

The viewing space is the centrepiece of the project, sitting on a dominant site that overlooks the idyllic landscape.

Viewpoint architecture: East Point Park bird sanctuary weathering steel pavilions by Plant Architect in Toronto, Ontario Canada

It is made up of two pavilions that mirror each other. Beneath the wing-shaped steel roofs, concrete benches run along the walls to provide visitors with shelter from the elements.

"The city was looking for a 'signature' pavilion to serve as a central gathering point for the park," Plant Architect co-founder Mary Tremain told Dezeen. "It was to be a meeting place, a place to provide shelter from rain, and somewhere that could accommodate a group of school kids."

Viewpoint architecture: East Point Park bird sanctuary weathering steel pavilions by Plant Architect in Toronto, Ontario Canada

The rusty steel walls of both pavilions are densely perforated with silhouettes of birds in flight. Beneath the patterns, both the Latin and English names of bird species native to the area are stencilled into the metal.

"The main pavilion is the central gathering area for the site," added Tremain. "It is comprised of two pieces which, in plan are a mirror image of one another – one side focuses views inland towards the pond, the other focuses views outwards toward Lake Ontario."

Viewpoint architecture: East Point Park bird sanctuary weathering steel pavilions by Plant Architect in Toronto, Ontario Canada

Away from the pavilions near the pond, the bird-watching blind is nestled up against the reeds close to the water's edge.

The metal panels here are punctured with orthogonal shapes designed to look like a play of shadows, helping to camouflage the shelter.

Viewpoint architecture: East Point Park bird sanctuary weathering steel pavilions by Plant Architect in Toronto, Ontario Canada

The water-jet cut graphics are at different heights to allows both adults and children "to observe birds on the pond, unobtrusively but at close range."

Now that phase one is complete, Plant Architect is looking towards the second phase of the project, which it describes as a listening sanctuary.

Viewpoint architecture: East Point Park bird sanctuary weathering steel pavilions by Plant Architect in Toronto, Ontario Canada

This building, called Soundscape Pavilion, will be completely enclosed, encouraging visitors "to savour the sounds of a forest alive with birdsong," according to the team.

Other firms have created structures for bird watching using more natural materials. Swedish studio Wingårdhs made a visitors centre for a bird-nesting habitat that is almost entirely thatched with reeds.

Similarly, the Swiss Ornithological Institute by MLZD has rammed earth walls and timber cladding to help it blend with its natural setting.

Photography is by Steven Evans.

Location plan of East Point Park bird sanctuary weathering steel pavilions by Plant Architect in Toronto, Ontario Canada
Location plan – click for larger image
Site plan of East Point Park bird sanctuary weathering steel pavilions by Plant Architect in Toronto, Ontario Canada
Site plan – click for larger image