Facade as Avian Habitat: Designing Multispecies Cohabitation at the University of Maryland

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Students in this studio were challenged to redesign the existing south-facing brick facade of the School of Architecture, Planning & Preservation building at the University of Maryland, College Park, using an aesthetically appealing new brick bond that functions as viable habitat for small birds of various species. Students also proposed ways of altering the existing glazing at the building to make it bird-safe.

Pattern-making using brick bonds is a venerable architectural tradition, and the projections and recesses formed through brick rotation and spacing can be more than ornamental—they can create the ledges and nooks that birds can occupy to perch and roost. In this studio, students explored various methods of designing brick bonding, including both conventional modeling and parametric modeling, to create sophisticated and beautiful brick bonds that attract and house birds.

The facades are intended to integrate with the building’s entry courtyard landscape to foster a more biodiverse public space for humans and nonhuman animals. They are also meant to demonstrate an approach to facade design that is inclusive and respectful of multiple species.

ARCH 408 is a 6-credit design studio that is focused designing relations between human and nonhuman animals. The course was taught by Michael Ezban, RA, ASLA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Architecture. The work in this studio report covers a 3-week assignment—an introductory design project within the larger 9-week course.