It’s been a good while since I’ve taken a look at traditional building materials tweaked to provide shelter to winged lodgers, so I was happy to stumble across — hat tip to Dezeen — a clever, conservation-minded concept from young British designer Aaron Dunkerton.
Dubbed Bird Brick, Kingston University grad Dunkerton has conceived a five-piece nesting cavity for the critically endangered house sparrow that’s composed of four traditionally hand-made, clamp-fired bricks along with a small clay entrance hole that twists and locks into place.
Meant to be installed in clusters of two or three during the construction of new homes or garden walls, Bird Brick is an inventively inconspicuous alternative to traditional nesting boxes — a camouflaged avian abode that would throw even Sylvester the Cat and his most predacious pals off.
And when compared to Klaas Kuiken’s roof tile birdhouse concept, there’s little chance that Bird Brick’s sparrow-in-residence would get fatally overheated: "The material properties of brick — low thermal and moisture movement and high durability — make the cavity ideal for nesting without affecting the building structurally, as well as being visually unobtrusive."
Dunkerton explains the plight of the house sparrow to Dezeen:
Over the last 50 years the UK has lost over 44 million birds. The house sparrow population has decreased by almost 70% and I decided to do something to help with their conservation.
House sparrows are sociable birds. They like to nest in small colonies of three to four breeding pairs in and around homes. However, as these holes and gaps are being filled up for better insulation, these birds are running out of places to nest.
Conservation for sparrows? Yep, it's somewhat hard to believe given that in North America these chatty little fellas are everywhere — suburban, urban, wherever there's a park bench, a picnic table, or a seeded baguette being consumed there's surely a sparrow or five nearby. But as Dunkerton discusses, the species' existence is under threat in urban areas around the U.K. due in part to a lack of insects (blame disappearing green spaces) and vanishing nesting sites (cats can take some blame, too).
The Bird Brick, shortlisted for Design Council’s 2013 Future Pioneer Award, is also relatively low maintenance: "Each cavity must be cleared out once every 2-5 years, some time between September and November. The stopper twists out and must then be re-pointed in once the cavity has been cleared."
Good stuff. Any thoughts?