The Pape Nature Park in south-western Latvia opened in 2003 with the aim of protecting the region’s wetlands. The nearly-11,000 hectare park includes important nesting grounds for 250 species of migrating birds within the marshes situated at the limit between the Papes Lake and the sea. Participants were challenged with designing a new bird observation station in the Park. The observation tower will be used primarily to record annual migratory habits of an estimated 50,000 birds, as well as to allow park visitors the opportunity to observe the birds. In this light, functionality and sustainability were critical considerations. Firstly, the proposed structure must permit users the ability to observe birds and other migratory animals in a manner that is simultaneously protective –visitors must be concealed to some level from frightening off animals – and open to 360-degree views. Secondly, the observation tower must have the capacity to be built with minimal disruption to the Pape Nature Park habitat.
Our design challenges the notion of the tower, as we believe that it would feel like a foreign, insular object within the landscape, acting as an isolated point of destination. We therefore sought to place emphasis on the journey rather than on the destination. The Orniments aim to enable a series of phenomenological experiences by placing woven pods along an integrated pathway. The pods and pathway have been designed to sit comfortably within the natural environment of the bird and not the human.
The lightweight steel grid walkway ensures that the introduction of an access route does not impose any dominance over the landscape. The walkway will be suspended above the flora by means of light steel posts. The use of a permeable grid walkway ensures that the intervention does not hinder plant growth or access to rain and sunlight. Visitors will have the ability to walk amongst the reeds while hovering comfortably over the wetland.
Many of the pods are completely inaccessible to humans, ensuring that the Orniments cater to the needs of the both human and bird visitors in terms of viewing and nesting respectively. The pods are also supported by light steel columns and are created using simple pre-manufactured timber frames, over which wattle is woven in varying degrees of density. The viewing pods have suspended steel grid floors inside. The viewing pods have been designed and placed with the intention of immersing visitors within the realm of the birds. Each viewing pod provides a unique experience whilst still maximising views of the birds and the landscape and providing sheltered areas for viewing and photography. The design of the nesting pods in terms of their enclosed, sheltered interiors and woven wattle shells provide birds with the ideal environment within which to nest.
Waterford Beerhall Competition, Stellenbosch, Western Cape
Daffonchio was invited to participate in a competition to conceptualise a new microbrewery and beerhall on an established wine farm in Stellenbosch. Located at the foot of the Suurberg and Driekop Mountains, the site is surrounded by rows of tall trees to the south and west, a lake to the north and vineyards to the east.
The brief was to showcase the workings of and processes involved in the brewing of beer on a small scale, while at the same time providing an opportunity for the visitors to enjoy the various brews produced by the microbrewery.
Through a phenomenological approach to reading the site, an expression was derived from the abstraction of the dominant elements found on the site, in an attempt to capture the atmosphere and enhance the character of the site. The unmistakable presence of the mountain, the commanding verticality of the trees and the juxtaposition of the primary elements (fire, air, water, and earth) together, create a hyperawareness of the spirit of place.
When approaching the site, the building is completely hidden behind carefully positioned grass berms. The placement of these berms create a winding entrance path that twists and turns, deliberately framing dramatic views of the water and mountains, while slowly revealing elements of the building to the visitor.
The intention was to blend the structure into its environment by manipulating the textures of the materials used and mimicking elements found on the site. The strongly angled roof plane made from off shutter concrete is supported by a careful arrangement of slanted steel columns.
Internally, the bar and microbrewery stand as objects in the space, defining the relationship between the public and the private areas.
The undulating glass membrane sets up an interesting tension as it weaves through the slanted columns, defining pockets of space inside and outside the structure. When the glass is opened up, the definition between inside and outside is blurred by the seemingly irregular placement of the columns and the continuation of both the floor and roof planes. The warm colour and rich texture of the brick floor is emphasised and contrasted by polished brass strips that are laid into the floor. The underside of the concrete roof is illuminated by a sea of delicate lights made from glass balls of various sizes, creating the impression of thousands of beer bubbles beneath the roof.
A deliberate tension has been set up between the raw and rough materials of the roof, floor and columns and the very refined elements such as the glass, lights and copper fireplaces, resulting in an enriched sensory experience for the user.
London Public Library, Southwark, London
The site is located on the south bank of the Thames River and close to the Tower Bridge. It is well connected to public transportation, and has great views of the Shard and Swiss Re. This area has undergone many changes in the last 20 years; what was previously a depressed area has become the a site of development of new cultural industries. Norman Foster developed a master plan which includes the construction of offices, luxury hotels, restaurants, gyms and the city council. The location of London Public Library emerged as a natural complement to Foster´s master plan.
The brief called for the library to be inserted as a continuity to the master plan. There was no restriction set for the height of the building, but proposals had to retain 100% of the green footprint of the site, thereby ensuring generous outdoor public space.
Anglo American Headquarters Competition, Johannesburg CBD
Anglo American held a competition for urban regeneration and a new building in the Anglo Precinct in the Johannesburg CBD. Daffonchio entered the competition in collaboration with Denver Hendricks and Phillippa Tumubweine.
The brief was to restore the original Art Deco Head Office at 44 Main Street, refurbish several high rise buildings built in the 70's and 80's, to reinvigorate the outdoor public spaces in the precinct, and to design a new 30 storey high rise building.
We proposed futuristic sky-walks to connect the various buildings, and introduced extensive landscaping for the streets and public spaces.