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RIBA Award for Sustainable Design

Blotting Ornithologics: The Calcutta Institute of Aviculture

Part 2 Project 2019
Findlay McFarlane
Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture | UK
The bird can no longer exist in Kolkata as it has become. It demands instead the ecology of what Calcutta was, a new patterning of co-existence and architecture as mediator in an “Ocean of Wetness.” Da Cunha and Mathur argue in this manifesto that there is no line between wet and dry except those we humans have drawn ourselves. Kolkata is blanketed in concrete, and already regularly flooded by rising sea levels. Blotting Ornithologics, through a new educational institution, harnesses the avicultural wisdom found in the ornithologist Satyacharan Laha’s Pet Birds of Bengal (1923), prioritising the logics of birds to challenge human lines of territory between city and jungle within a spectrum of wetness which blurs air, water and land.

Species-specific architectures occupy infiltration basins found between layers of ornithological requirements which soak water away to alleviate runoff, while creating public landscapes from which the environmental cores of the architecture rise. Open envelopes provide shade, rain cover and air movement, creating outside buildings which hold moments of environmental control, all drawn from the wetness below. This permeability embraces the blur between wet and dry, and at all scales these Ornithologics work with, not against, the omnipresent moisture.

Findlay McFarlane

Dr. Dorian Wiszniewski
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