The Bison Hillock in Romania can now be experienced from a unique wildlife observatory | WWF

The Bison Hillock in Romania can now be experienced from a unique wildlife observatory

Posted on
05 September 2017
Bucharest – WWF-Romania and Camposaz organised a ”design and build” multi-cultural workshop in August - 30 architects and designers from Romania, Italy, and the Netherlands built a landscape wildlife observatory in the Bison Hillock in Tarcu Mountains. The workshop was part of the LIFE-Bison project, through which WWF-Romania and Rewilding Europe are reintroducing wild bison to the Southern Carpathians of Romania, with support from the EU’s LIFE Programme.
The observatory is unique to the region and the country. The visitor infrastructure of the bison rewilding site is now richer, offering tourists and locals a new way to explore and experience the area, and also a nice place to rest during their journey.
Ten days of creation and building in the wild heart of the Tarcu Mountains
The workshop took place in a remote location, in the perimeter of an old, abandoned mountain summer hut belonging to a family from Armeniș. The participants stayed in tents in the garden for 10 days and worked daily on the design and building of the observatory. The workshop followed a pre-devised process which began with a phase of immersion in the local natural setting, leading to an ideathlon to transpose these spontaneous first impressions into possible design ideas, then to actual design and conceptualisation, ending with the construction and fine-tuning of the structure. 
The technical coordination of the workshop was ensured by Camposaz, an organisation from Italy which brings together architects and designers engaged in missions to revive valuable public spaces from around the world. The architectural collective applies an approach which is relatively new in this field, namely ”design and build”, which bears similarities to a flashmob.
The building of the structure eventually began on the fifth day and was wrapped-up on Sunday, 27 August 2017. Over the course of the week, participants also developed and mounted in the interior a few wooden elements with an informative role, such as the timeline of the bison comeback, an interactive map of the landscape which can be observed from this location, a modular table with symbols of the main pillars of the bison reintroduction initiative, and a small installation which speaks of the impact of bison on nature and the relationship between forests and meadows that they create. 
The structure responds to the need of having a sheltered place to observe bison and wildlife of the Tarcu Mountains, a space to host talks with groups of tourists and youngsters from the local communities, and a space able to highlight the transition between the forest and the open environment. The structure is formed of a few modules of a triangular shape, amongst which a place reserved for observations through a telescope, and the roof with multiple inclinations alludes to the line of a traditional local summer hut (”sălaș”), paying respect to the local culture. The way the walls and the roof were built, with detached timber, helps it blend into the natural setting and invites the sunrays in, paying respect to nature and the landscape. 
An inclusive work philosophy for ingenious and sustainable solutions
The decision for a collective building of the observatory rather than through contracting of a single company illustrates the preference of WWF for bringing in talent and know-how from the most diverse social circles and expert fields.
We want to take this opportunity to thank everybody for their support, including the ladies from the local community who cooked delicious meals throughout, the bison rangers and the locals who offered their help in transporting the participants, materials and food to and from the camp, which was about one hour away from the nearest village, Fenes (Armenis commune). Without all this help, the building of the observatory in this multi-cultural formula and in this location would not have been possible.
More details about the bison rewilding project (LIFE-Bison):
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