In some kind of bizarre Hitchcockian mash-up (spying on your neighbors, dizzying heights, stairs, a massive amount of birds) set amongst a tranquil woodland area in Japan’s Nagano prefecture, Tokyo-based design firm Nendo has created a 78-unit avian apartment complex-cum-human-sized treehouse dubbed, most appropriately, Bird-Apartment.
The minimalist, house-shaped structure — described by its designers as "collective housing for many birds and one person" — is perched in a forest canopy high above the grounds of Komoro City’s Momofuku Ando Center. This “nature activity facility” of sorts is named in honor of the Taiwan-born genius who introduced Nissin Top Ramen to the world. (Starving college students take note: he died at the age of 96 in 2007 and credited his longevity to a daily diet of instant noodles.)
As you can see, on the front façade of the structure there are 78 individual entrances to one-room nesting units (no subletting!) complete with pitched roofs that mimic the iconic profile of the entire structure. Cute. But it’s through the “back entrance” where things get really interesting. Bird-Apartment is actually divided into two parts by a central wall: the front half of the structure is composed of a network of individual birdhouses while in the back half there's a small viewing room complete with 78 tiny, apartment-style peepholes scattered all over the wall at different heights. Non-winged visitors to the Bird-Apartment are invited to scale a stepladder and crawl into the back room through a large circular opening (which hopefully the birds won't also fly through).
Once inside, visitors can spy on the feathered residents in each of the birdhouses through the peepholes as they go about their daily routines — eatin’ worms, sittin’ on eggs, hatchin' chicks, hiding out from predators, fashioning duvets out of twigs and mud, performing sexy bird stripteases … that kind of titillating stuff. I wish I could say that peeping into one of the occupied units of Bird-Apartment is an experience similar to glancing into the mouse hole in Pee-wee’s Playhouse but, alas, it’s probably a bit less captivating. Still, for bird lovers, the privilege of being able to observe and study the critters at such close proximity is a real treat.
Given that birds are clever, instinctive little creatures, I'd like to think that they're fully aware of the unofficial leasing agreement — feel free to move in and stay awhile, but be aware that you're being watched through the wall — and that Bird-Apartment attracts only the most exhibitionist-minded of tenants (I suppose the use of discreet peepholes in lieu of plate-glass windows makes the birdies feel less self-conscious). By that same token, I'd also be a bit concerned that, fed up with the constant invasion of privacy, some Bird-Apartment lodgers would rebel and try to take over the entire structure in an instant noodle-fueled, Bodega Bay-style coup.
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