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The Inverted Island

PROJECT: Building for and with Nature (WaterEye)

The inspiration for my project came from a very unique bird called The Wrybill; the only bird in the world that has its beak turned to the side - always right. It is an endemic species with only 5 000 individuals left, from which most are settling in the Manukau Harbour.   Unfortunately it’s a very poor location choice. The nearby Auckland Airport creates an air traffic where birds suffer collisions with the planes.   The first step was to relocate the nesting and shelter areas into deeper water - yet still on the birds' migration path.   While investigating where and how the wrybill flies, I came across a research studying how they actually land. The functioning of birds’ feet and the footprints they leave on sand can be used to understand and recreate the Triassic theropod dinosaurs' movement, their habitat and behaviour. That footprint with its dynamic shape became an inspiration for my building design.  

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Accessing the island is a journey itself since one has to cross the water. Its inaccessibility creates a mystic aura and makes it more desirable.   Locating the inverted island under water makes it almost invisible from the shore, preventing us from focusing on the horizon but instead on what is underneath. The hidden building would act as a reminder of the mystery laying just beneath the surface of water, richness that we usually can’t see, contributing to help ourselves better understanding and representing our environment.  

This project was created as a part of an intensive course on my 1st year Master's Architecture Degree at Auckland University

Tutor: Lada Hršak & Esther Mecredy

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As the footprint sinks into the sand the building itself is sinking into the water of Manukau Harbour. The area inside follows the idea of inverted island creating an extraordinary environment within. Its dynamic shape allows different spaces to occur. Private parts on the sides are dedicated as shelters for wandering birds. Surrounded by rich sea life and becoming a “pit stop” for wanderers of all species. The enclosed area creates a recreational facility and immerses people in the environment. You can find zones for wildlife observation as well as entertainment and education. The textured exterior surface allows small organisms to live within and contribute shaping it.  

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The building I created is self-sufficient. The energy is produced by renewable energy sources like water turbines, solar panels and heat pumps. The shape of the inner bottom surface guides the water to multiple intakes. It is then stored and cleansed, providing the water needed to sustain the environment inside.

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Below diagrams represent the variety of functions & activities allocated within the structure.

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