Text description provided by the architects. In 2016, the Lausanne ornithology club (COL: Cercle Ornithologique de Lausanne) acquired a small cabin facing Île aux Oiseaux (“Bird Island”) at Préverenges, an artificial biotope reclaimed from the lake in 2001 and now classified as an official nature reserve. Its location is connected to the natural estuary of the Venoge, a river that flows into Lake Geneva. This is one of the main stopping places for migratory waders in Switzerland, primarily due to its unique geographic situation in the axis of the Rhône valley. Birds arriving from Africa stop here before moving on to their distant summer quarters in the Arctic tundra.
Ideally located opposite the island, the new Maison de l’Île aux Oiseaux (bird island house) aims to raise awareness among the public and the region’s schoolchildren of issues around nature protection, the climate and the impact of human activities on the loss of stopover sites for migratory waders.
Analogue Architecture / Structure. The architecture of the bird island house draws inspiration from the elegance of the bird world (twig, nest, feather). Its structure is composed of solid vertical boards, assembled without glue, that have been bent to form a lacework structure of ogival elements suggesting the tension and delicacy of a nest. The ogival boards that support the roof run across the building, ornamenting the internal ceiling. Inside, visitors find a basic, warm space, covered with a light-coloured natural pine wood that contrasts with the darker framework of the building.
The roof is generously sized, with large eaves. It consists of layers of wood formed of thin cross-laminated panels and covered with black zinc cladding. The superposition of thin layers of wood lightens the airy, open-to-view roof structure, creating an impression of suspension and movement – an effect accentuated by the way the roof shape curves. The light form of the roof also has a footprint designed so that it slips between the very old Scots pine trees standing on this plot of land. In this way the pavilion blends very sensitively with its surroundings, causing no disturbance to the pre-existing ecosystem.
Standing by the lakeside like a bird, the pavilion is raised above the ground on delicate metal feet in a way that references its lakeside situation, water, time and travel. The gilded, shining feet protect the Maison de l’Île from bad weather. The main entrance to the house is via a large, curved ramp that extends the pavilion out towards the lakeside walkway, reaching out to visitors who are opposite the island. Made up of many vertical boards and raised on metal feet like a wooden pier, its curved shape and contrasting shades are reminiscent of a wader’s tail. A concrete base defines the transition between the damp earth and the wood raised above ground level.