Fly — Architecture Competition by

Rethinking Design Challenge — A bird observatory — Fly — Architecture Competition by Design Challenge by UNI

Fig: 1 — Birds flying (Credits- Vincent Van Zalin)

Creatures of flight

Known as evolutionary cousins of dinosaurs, birds have evolved from theropods (meat-eating dinosaurs) and the oldest bird fossils are about 150 million years old.

The scientific study only started in the 17th century with Aristotle’s books on bird habitat and migration patterns. Since then, records of different birds in the form of written manuscripts and drawings have enriched our knowledge of biodiversity. As scientific studies, wonderment, and awareness of these species increased, they became an inspiration for human flight.

Birds beautifully co-exist with nature and also share a cultural relationship with humans. They are one of the most crucial members of our ecosystem. By providing food for scavengers and decomposers they help maintain sustainable population levels of their prey and predators.

Thereby, indirectly balancing nature’s relationship with the human world.

Fig: 2 — In recent surveys, plastic trash was found in 90 percent of seabirds (Credits — Ingrid Taylar)

Threat to bird species

Although in recent years, there is increased pressure on birds and their role due to rapid urbanization.

While avian diversity in India has been limited to the study and conservation in protected ecosystems. There is a varied bird diversity outside these areas that remains neglected.

Further coastal areas are under serious threats of land reclamation and pollution. It has led to the destruction of natural habitats, as they are under serious threats due to sand dredging, coastal land reclamation, and pollution.

The coastline of Alibaug, Raigad comprises 30% of resident birds and 70% of migratory species. With the current state of development in and around Alibaug, the stress to residents and migratory birds is inevitable.

How can we reduce this human intervention and still maintain our balance with these species?

Fig: 3 — Bird watching on the beach (Credits- Pedro Meal)

Brief of the Competition

Rare species of birds are found on the coastline of Alibaug. In an extraordinary instance, the species of Woodchat Shrike which barely reaches Baluchistan was found in the region. Species like Oyster-catcher, Plovers, and Ruddy turnstone can also be spotted.

With the provision of Ro-Ro water services and ferries, Alibaug has become a weekly recreational spot among the inhabitants of Mumbai city. Demands for beach views and other recreation have led to rapid infrastructural encroachment into natural habitats. Since the coastline is not protected by officials, it is necessary to create awareness about its rich biodiversity. There is a need to document and conserve it.

What if this need is integrated into the tourism of the region? Can a balance be created between these species and us?

Brief: The challenge is to design a sustainable observatory with a visitor’s center with spaces for awareness and information that would balance and maintain the region’s landscape.

Design Objectives

  • Environmentally Sustainable: Design a bird observatory with sustainable construction methods and materials.
  • Tourism: Design to increase the footfall of the tourist, so the capital can be channelized towards the betterment of the species.
  • Spaces: Design ample spaces of recreation and landscape for the visitors.
  • Awareness: Design spaces of learning and awareness.
  • Conserve: Design thoughtfully to conserve the biodiversity around.

Participants can explore the challenge and devise their programmatic outline based on their design concepts.


Fig: 4 — Site image

Alibaug is a small coastal town in Maharashtra, India. It is diverse in its coastline and often attracts avid bird-watchers. Renowned ornithologist Dr. Salim Ali resided and studied the region of Alibaug extensively in his older days. Aksi beach is the hotspot for species of rare birds, but due to tourist intervention, there is a gradual decrease in the ecosystem around this area. Instead of restricting access to the region, can we view this as an opportunity to maintain the natural habitat for migratory birds as well as the beach?

Site Area: 1012 sq.m.

Height Limitations: 10m
Ground coverage: 30%
Maximum Built Up Area = 1012 sq.m
Setbacks (as per CAD plan)
Coordinates: 18°37'46.2"N 72°53'06.8"E

Find all the competition brief, terms, and other registration guidelines on this

page: Fly | Landscape Design Competition on UNI | About

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