Honorary Award

status / completed 2012

small architecture forms

STOP logo

For more information ask for brochure

In 2011, Warsaw Society for the Protection of Birds (STOP) has announced a competition to design a nesting places for swifts, so called “Tower for swifts”. President of Warsaw, Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz, took the honorary patronage over the competition. The aim of the competition was not only to select the best tower designs, but also to highlight the necessity to protect the swifts. It was decided to build the first freestanding tower in Poland in Warsaw (Bialoleka district). A design by menthol architects was selected to encourage as many swifts to nest in this area, and to eat the mosquitoes and black flies, which are a nuisance to the residents.

One of the best ways to protect these birds is to create safe nesting sites. Construction of small architectural forms would provide safe accommodation for the birds in a city environment -this could be nesting boxes hung on buildings or specially designed towers.

swift tower along Vistula River

Swift tower at Kopernikus Centre in Warsaw. Original photo courtesy of puszka.waw.pl

Protected but vulnerable ///

Swifts originally inhabited mountains, nesting among rocks and tall trees. Currently largest populations can be found in man build cities. From the nineties of the XX century, a significant reduction in the number of city species such as swift or sparrow is observed. The swift population is rapidly declining all over the Europe, partly as a result of the loss of nest sites through demolition, renovation and ‘improvements’ to buildings. Newly insulated buildings and modern construction doesn’t have adequate spaces where the birds can nest. The law describes when and how to do the repair and restoration of buildings in which birds have their nests. Unfortunately, the rules are often not followed. In many cases, the presence of birds in buildings during renovation causes intense conflicts between bird lovers and investors. Insulation of buildings causes the loss of thousands of nesting places because slots and holes where the birds nest are blocked, often birds are walled up alive!

What do swifts eat? ///

Food are small, eaten in large quantities insects like mosquitoes and flies. In areas where flying insects like mosquitoes are problem, swifts nesting in the tower could resolve this issue !

Nesting towers help swifts to survive ///

The proposed tower is a convenient refuge for swifts, protected from overheating and rain, it is durable and resistant to vandalism. “Wings” of the tower with located underneath nest boxes, provide shade and protection from rain. The solution uses a similar and already known habit of swifts nesting in the roof eaves of buildings.

Function and form ///

The dynamic silhouette of the swift during flight was the inspiration for the project. Long, narrow, pointed wings during flight and a slightly forked tail were captured in the proposed design, both in the front and side elevations. The form of the tower, reflecting the swift in flight can be easily recognised, and thus it promotes action to protect it. During the whole year it is also an interesting sculpture in the landscape, with the possibility of illumination at dusk.

Behind the Idea of building the tower for swifts is also to engage a wide diversity of youth and urban communities into the eco friendly way of thinking. Many of these people have had few, if any, opportunity to interact with wildlife or become involved with their conservation.

swift tower inspiration

Construction and materials ///

Main trunk of the tower is made of steel profiles, zinc coated and painted with light grey epoxy paint. The foundation is prefabricated steel and concrete foundation. Modular drawers with ninety nesting chambers are placed in a specially prepared cascading rack. The proposed system enables easy access to each chamber and possibility of replacement by sliding off the „drawer”. The entry hole dimensions are differently positioned in relation to each chamber and designed specially for swifts. The proposed material for the box is plywood. For aesthetic reasons and protection against biocorrosion, boxes could be painted with a color varnish (brown shades which are referring to the swift feathers).

swift tower nests

Additional functions ///

The tower can be equipped with the solar photovoltaic panels, which could provide so-called „clean energy” used to power playing attraction calls, as well as 4 LED strip lights which will be lit at night time, and optionally installed cameras. Illuminated towers at dusk along walking routes and public parks would be an attractive solution, promoting the action for swift protection even during it absence in the autumn and winter. This way the structure will function as a year round sculpture and it will attract more attention from people who will be aware of what is being done for swifts.

wieża dla jerza przy Centrum Kopernika w Warszawie

Swift tower at Kopernikus Centre in Warsaw. Original photo courtesy of Architektura-murator publishing agency (photo Marcin Czechowicz).

Under this link you can see photos of Warsaw Swift Tower

Under this link you can see photos of Belfast and Exeter Swift Tower