But most of the architectural solutions that protect birds also detract from views we enjoy. At Form, this presented a different type of challenge.
In 2007, to protect Toronto’s bird population, the City of Toronto established the Bird-Friendly Development Guidelines. This new environmental standard is intended to protect birds in urban environments. The issue is that unlike humans, birds “see” the world in the ultra-violet spectrum. Unfortunately, this means that glass is literally invisible to them, much as it to humans. It is estimated that at least one million birds are killed each year due to collisions with buildings in the City of Toronto.
Bird Friendly Design Options
Toronto’s new standard requires window applications be installed on the first 12 metres above grade. These visual markers – sometimes dots or patterns – help birds to identify windows as a solid object and prevent collisions. One exciting architectural example of embracing these guidelines and transforming them into stunning design is the Ryerson Student Centre in downtown Toronto. The patterned glass of the buildings’ exterior presents a visually compelling design during the day. In the evening, the pattern seems to disappear as the building is illuminated from within. The result is a beautiful design that also protects the natural habitat in our urban environment.
Another design alternative to limit the amount of reflections on glass is to pattern the panels of the first 12 metres above grade with ‘dots’, such as the glazing used at our Ten York community in downtown Toronto. This alternative to larger patterns on glass buildings is also effective in deterring bird strikes.
A Role-Model in Nature
While potentially exciting, these applications are also visible to the human eye. In the case of our FORM community, located near Queen and McCaul, this presented a unique challenge. Located at Queen and McCaul, just south of both the prestigious OCAD University and the Art Gallery of Ontario, a stunning new piece of public art has been commissioned for the FORM community. Intended to be installed on the ground floor adjacent to the lobby, and enjoyed by all, the glass curtain wall meant to protect the art from the elements, would also obstruct a clear view if covered with bird protection markings. In the heart of a neighbourhood strongly entrenched in artistic appreciation, herein lay the problem. How would we ensure an unobstructed view of a new public piece of artwork without endangering the local bird population. We looked to nature (and Germany) for the solution.
Watch BBC Stories on Protecting our Bird Population and What the City of Toronto is Doing
Simply put, as nature has evolved over the millennia, it has engineered solutions to problems which presented an obstacle to survival. How does this apply to an art installation at FORM? While birds cannot discern glass as a solid object, they are able to “see” things in the ultra-violet spectrum, like spider webs. Spider webs are something that our eyes do not typically detect unless light is reflected from them in a particular way. Otherwise, they are almost invisible to the human eye. It offered the perfect solution: windows engineered with a ‘spider-web’ imprinted in the glass; almost invisible to the human eye but clearly seen by birds.
We discovered Ornilux Bird Protection windows, manufactured by Arnold Glass. Made in Germany, Ornilux Glass is manufactured with a layer of ultra violet glazing on it’s surface. This pattern of random lines is designed to imitate a spider’s web. The lines make it visible to birds, who are then able to avoid a collision. Meanwhile, the human eye can only perceive the lines in a minimal way and their view remains mostly uninterrupted.
Innovative leadership in the construction industry
A nine time winner of the BILD Green Builder of the Year Mid-High Rise Award, Tridel is an acknowledged industry leader in environmentally-friendly and innovative residential development. Our philosophy is firmly rooted in the principal of building quality, sustainable homes for our residents and their communities.
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