A student from Northumbria University has envisioned a sustainable hostel to house both birds and water sports enthusiasts in Blyth on the northeast coast of England. Positioned on dramatic sweeping beaches, a series of 9-story towers will provide protected nesting and bird watching areas in the winter, and transform into a communal campsite for water sports enthusiasts in the summer.

Graduate student Thomas Savage took inspiration from Spanish Architect Manuel Fonseca Gallego’s Ornithological Observatory for the architecture degree project submitted under tutor Sebastian Messer. In addition to our feathered friends, Savage imagines "roosts" for human bird watchers and surfers alike during their respective seasons. The concept aims to alternate use between the popular ornithological society and water sports community of the town through the course of the year.

The concept proposes to capitalize on the shift in activity and visitors between bird watching in winter and spring and water sports in summer and autumn. In the summer, the tall steel scaffolding and concrete cabins would be open and form a campsite-type residence with communal and storage areas. For the remainder of the year, the cabins would be boarded up to create protected nesting areas for the birds and viewing platforms for birdwatchers.

A second site in the scheme is a visitor center located inland on the shore banks. This too encourages bird habitation through tunnel-like openings in the roof and also provides viewing platforms for birdwatchers.

Blyth’s heavy industrial work has declined in recent decades, yet the port continues shipping paper and pulp for the newspaper industry. The community is keen to promote sustainable activities alongside the wind farms that are located offshore. The concept design by Thomas Savage, titled “In Praise Of Nests and Other Things” could be a conceivable alternative to typical tourism promotion schemes and provide a distinctive landmark feature for the town.

Savage’s design is a creative solution to the project brief: to produce a museum with hostel accommodation. Whilst it may ultimately remain unrealized, it is a thought-provoking conceptual idea that many practicing architects probably no longer have the opportunity to dream up in today’s busy world.

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