torbiere del sebino pavilion competition.

Sep 07, 2023

Earlier this year, our team submitted an entry into the Torbiere del Sebino Wildlife Pavilion design competition. With the aim of challenging anthropocentric architecture and with the idea of experimenting with a new creative process focused on nature, this competition required the design of three small-scale pavilions immersed in the landscape of the peat bogs of Sebino, a large mass of wetland close to the south shore of Lake Iseo in Northern Italy.

Although our entry was not selected by the jury, it provided our team with opportunities to explore and experiment with new ideas. Design competitions like this help to drive our profession into the future. Each competition entry we do leaves us with new approaches to design and often new skills and tools to put into practice.

Our competition entry details:

Limited to areas of permissible human visitation, our team proposed a texturally site-driven tripartite of cohesive interventions that complement and strengthen the cross-section of existing ecological habitats and enhance the awareness of those. Human experience, learning, and awareness of those seeking communion with nature are promoted and enhanced with integrated sightlines, elevation changes, and an imbued reverence for place. The value of spaces open to the public is ultimately increased with provisions of carefully orchestrated access.

East Pavilion:

Conceived as a partially submerged thick-walled ensemble of meandering structure sited near an existing entry point, the amphibious and protective East Pavilion delivers a microhabitat for aquatic species. It is a rare opportunity below grade for visitors to view a small sampling of what swims beneath the water's surface.

Central Pavilion:

Drawing upon and blending with the environment, the revised and rededicated existing central trail is a continuous thin-line pavilion emerging from the bog with a bordering reed-like definition. Connecting the East and West Pavilions together, its thickened perimeter encourages wildlife habitation on both sides, masks aspects of human activity from the water's surface beyond, and maintains a safe crossing for visitors.

Purposefully unprotected wood dries, warps, and deteriorates through slow decomposition until eventually very little remains. As the lifecycle of the pavilion progresses, the vertical wooden members will deviate from a pristine condition, become aesthetically akin to the landscape, and provide housing for birds taking refuge in its clusters. Insects and reptiles are welcomed by the decay as they find places to burrow. With the passing of time, the native wood will fall apart completely, float away, or sink beneath the water's surface to become a shelter for small fish.

West Pavilion:

Bending the central path skyward, the West Pavilion offers safe nesting for a wide variety of avifauna, a raised observation deck for visitors, and is a clear destination for birds and humans alike. As a beacon visible from a distance, its majority volume gives host to a multitude of nesting sites largely shielded from direct human contact and serves as the western terminus of the Central Pavilion. A matrix of cross-oriented wood members rhythmically and exponentially separates in section, visually dissipating into the empyrean curve above.