17 October 2009
One of the most original pieces of public art has been unveiled in Cardiff Bay to mark the completion of a huge residential development.
Designed by Gitta Gschwendtner, Animal Wall is a specially designed wall that contains integrated bird and bat nesting boxes. It is a site-specific, ecological artwork that forms a 50-metre long boundary between the public walkway alongside the River Taff and ‘Strata’ - the final phase of the 942 unit residential development, Century Wharf.
WYG Planning & Design, part of the WYG Group, designed Century Wharf during a continuous 10 year appointment to Charles Church Developments.
WYG’s architectural project director, Jonathan Vining, was instrumental in selecting Gitta for this important commission. He said: “Gitta’s idea of bringing wildlife into the development by creating the same number of nesting boxes for birds and bats to inhabit as there are apartments on the site is not only compelling, but one that really fits in with the architecture and offers something to the wider context.”
Gschwendtner designed four different-sized nesting boxes in consultation with ecologist, David Clements, and these were manufactured in woodcrete – a mixture of sawdust, clay and concrete, coloured with pigment. Arranged as a modular, repetitive cladding, the result is an aesthetically interesting and environmentally sensitive wall to the riverside walk that transcends the barrier between the private and the public realms.
The wall also makes an interesting connection with Cardiff's first animal wall built in 1887-88 to the designs of William Burges. This was originally located outside Cardiff Castle but was moved from in front of the moat to its current position in Bute Park in 1930. It is now a dearly-loved part of Cardiff’s urban fabric.
Professor Malcolm Parry, former Head of the Welsh School of Architecture, who unveiled the new Animal Wall on 26 August 2009, complimented WYG on the “real sense of place” that had been created at Century Wharf. He said: “Cardiff’s first animal wall marked the boundary between us – the public – and a privileged world. Over 120 years later, this new animal wall marks the boundary of a much more egalitarian society and will itself house its own community.”
The Animal Wall was commissioned by Charles Church Developments through the Cardiff-based public art agency, Safle.