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Glass in architecture – and its danger for birds

As the human population grows, so does its effect on local flora and fauna. Urbanisation has seen human habitation creeping into areas that were traditionally the realm of wildlife, presenting birds and animals with unfamiliar obstacles and structures, to which many find it hard or impossible to adapt.

With this urbanisation and population growth has come the need for greater population density and more efficient land use and, as a result, buildings have risen in height, often into the flight paths of domestic and migratory species of birds. This problem is then compounded by the increasing use of glazing in architecture. From skyscraper curtain walls to feature windows in domestic buildings, glass has become an important material for both structural and aesthetic purposes.

Birds do not perceive glass in the way we do. Although it is transparent, we see all the visual cues, such as geometric shapes, frames, mullions and mounts, but to a bird, a modern float-glass panel is an opening or an entrance to a tunnel, it may also reflect vegetation and appear to them as safe passage. They simply don’t have the same perception as us. Urbanisation, habitat encroachment, taller buildings and the wider proliferation of glazing have come together to create a real danger for birds, so we have to be conscious of this in our design exercise.

 

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