A human-sized birdhouse built for the San Antonio Botanical Gardens, the Gourd is a testament to working for and with community, and offers a playful platform in which to contemplate the complex relationship between humans and the natural world.
Rather than pursuing a form that resembles a small human house, as is typically seen in most manmade birdhouses, the design team chose a form inspired by the bottle gourd, first used in its hollowed-out form by Native Americans to attract Purple Martins as a nesting spot. The organic form inspires creativity and imagination'particularly in its youngest of users who have affectionately nicknamed the structure their "pineapple house" and "spaceship''while pushing the limits of digital design and fabrication.
The Gourd is built out of seventy plates of 12GA Cor-ten steel that are wrapped around a robin's egg blue internal octahedron structure, and perforated with over 1,000 Ball Mason jars. The jars illuminate the interior space while providing a visible connection to the outside world. Each steel plate, unique in shape and size, was fabricated using CNC laser cutting technology and emulates the pattern of a dragonfly wing.
Fabricated and assembled in house by the design team, the project provided young designers a firsthand education in material characteristics and craftsmanship, as well as working as part of a production team. The project serves as an exemplar model of high-end digital fabrication and finely honed craft, bringing an experientially unexpected space to life for the local community.