Campus associate professor of architecture M. Paz Gutierrez and her team of graduate students created a giant and intricate replica of the weaver bird’s nest that was displayed at the UC Botanical Garden.
The project, titled “Plant Fiber Enclosure: Origins,” is created from 400 woven pieces of different sizes and designs, all inspired by the weaver bird’s nest, according to a campus press release. The project description reads that students were inspired by the “high standard of efficiency and beauty in lightweight architecture” of bird nests.
Gutierrez, who has been conducting field work across the Americas in search of sustainable building technology, said coming across the weaver bird’s nest, she was fascinated by the lightness and thickness of the nests.
Using new technologies such as 3-D printing along with natural resources to recreate the nest, Gutierrez said the project is a way to learn how traditional materials and methods can be applied to an increasingly digital world that faces limited resources and climate change.
“The value (of the project) is just to bring to the surface what digital technology can make with 100 percent natural materials, in this case natural fibers,” Gutierrez said. “After industrialization we tend to overlook a lot of value of traditional fiber based construction.”
Those at the botanical garden came to host the nest after seeing that the “incredible work that came out of a world-class institution” is able to bring together the ideas of nature, technology and tradition.
“It was fascinating to hear about how ancient tradition and uses of plants can have this role in such modern cutting-edge technology,” said Deepa Natarajan, public program coordinator at the garden.
Gutierrez said she was interested in coordinating with the botanical garden for being an incredible habitat for birds and plants and because it serves as a forum for processing natural fiber. She added that she has particular interest in the origins of natural fibers, as a part of her research in the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas.
Staff members said the exhibition has been met with favorable reactions from the community both for its aesthetic and technical qualities.
“Visitors have been amazed. It’s remarkable (the nest) is 3-D printed from all natural materials,” Natarajan said. “(With) 400 different panels you see how much work went into understanding the construction.”
Anthony Garza, supervisor of horticulture and grounds at the garden, said the project was especially relevant to the garden since birding is common in the garden, with diverse bird nests spotted every year.
“At the garden we are interested in related linkages to the natural world,” Garza said.
Natarajan said it was great to collaborate with the campus project and expressed hopes to show the exhibition again in the future.