TIJ Observatory is not just an Instagram worthy spot

Designed for the bird watchers by collaborating firms RAU Architects and RO+AD Architects

With a complex form inspired by a local bird’s egg, TIJ observatory is a significant part of a large landscape plan on the western coast of the Netherlands.

RAU Architects and RO+AD Architects designed a series of observatories for Scheelhoek Nature Reserve to celebrate the opening of the Haringvliet sluices: a dam created to improve water quality and biodiversity while stimulating fish migration.

TIJ Observatory is one of the essential parts in this series as a birdwatching hideout in Stellendam, the Netherlands.

In an island full of reed beds and beautiful birds such as spoonbills, sand martins, and the common sandwich terns, the designers created a well-planned path to stroll down to this giant egg-shaped observatory and enjoy watching the birds’ natural habitat.

‘TIJ’ is a Dutch word referring to the returning tides in Haringvliet: it is also used as a joke around the shape of the structure, meaning ‘the egg’ if pronounced quickly. TIJ Observatory takes the form of a tern’s egg which seems to be resting in a nest, located as the endpoint of the tunnel path.

Well-planned path leading to TIJ Observatory
A well-planned path leads to TIJ Observatory on Stellemdam Island, Netherlands

The observatory’s main structure is designed by two types of wood: the bottom part, which often floods, is made with Accoya (durable and sustainably sourced wood) whereas the upper part is made with pinewood. The nest of the egg consists of vertical ‘feathers’ of chestnut poles, reeds and small sand dunes.

The platform inside the egg, from where visitors can enjoy the view of Haringvliet and the island, features a concrete floor that acts as a structural stabilizer. In order to shield the natural habitat, the final section of the path leading to the observatory was designed as a tunnel covered in sand, preventing birds from hearing or seeing humans.

TIJ Observatory exterior

The entire structure conceived by RAU Architects and RO&AD Architects is sustainable thanks to its materials, re-useability and modularity. “TIJ Observatory is temporary and will be taken apart and reused without adverse effects on nature or man.

In this way, we have created an ecosystem where man and nature can come closer together and be a part of each other’s world” commented the designers.


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