26 March 2015

Hasselnes Wind Shelter - Watching Auroras in Varanger

Aurora-watching from the new Hasselnes bird hide and wind shelter. To left in the distance is Hornøya bird cliff.


Hornøya bird cliff is one of the key attractions in Varanger. We are currently working on a project aiming at improving the fascilities on Hornøya, and to connect Hornøya more with Vardø island. At Hasselnes, northeasternmost Vardø island, you have great views of Hornøya bird cliff. Hasselnes used to be the town dump. With the new bird hide and windshelter we aim to make Hasselnes an attractive place to visit. It is already a key place for birders and all visitors to Vardø, but fasilities and information have been absent. During our recent bird festival Gullfest 2015 we opened the Hasselnes wind shelter. With its varied seatings and spaces it gives you shelter from the main wind directions. The views towards Hornøya bird cliff and the bird rich Reinøysundet is brilliant. And in the evenings it works brilliantly as a Northen Lights watching shelter.

A spectacular polar front over Vardø is nicely viewed from new shelter at Hasselnes, northeasternmost point on Vardø island.

Pro nature development in progress

The Hasselnes project was made possible with the kind contributions from Vardø Kommune. A big thanks goes out to Erik and his collegues at the municipality office who built the fundament. Miljødirektoratet  / the Norwegian Environment Agency supported the project with funding for all materials and carpentry. A very big thanks to them for believing in this project, and for contributing to the ongoing Hornøya project. This project is all about making nature easily accessible and more valued by both locals and visitors. Transforming an old dump into an attraction is a pretty cool thing to do in this respect. Together with Vardø Næringsforening (the local commerce organisation) we run the Hornøya project. Making the Hasselnes shelter is a good starting point for creating more local awareness of this world class attraction. Vardø-carpenter Ken Lorentzen have built the hide, together with Alonza from the Biotope office. Finnmark Entreprenør have contributed with both transportation and garage space for this prosject. A very big thanks to all involved! Vardø and Varanger just got a little bit better!

Bird hides and wind shelters are a key part of developing Varanger as the worlds finest arctic birding destination. The idea is to make easily available and inviting pieces of architecture at key sites in Varanger. We also aim to use local resources whenever necessary. The Hasselnes shelter is built with locally sourced Pasvik timber, delivered by Ben Arne from Pasvik.

From the building of the hide in Finnmark Entreprenørs garage in Vardø.  

Erik from Vardø kommune making the foundation for the hide. This is a part of a process of turing the old dump into an attraction. The concrete slabs are recycled material from an old building in town. 

The main part of the project was built in the garage, then taken to the site for finalizing. 

Carpenter Ken Lorentzen working on site.

Vardø - Hornøya - Varanger

Hornøya is perhaps the finest nature attraction in Varanger. The birdlife of Hornøya bird cliff have become famous among birders and nature photographers around the globe. In Vardø locals have a long tradition of gathering eggs on Reinøya and Hornøya, however this has not been practiced in recent years. Now locals are also increasingly becoming aware of Hornøya Island's unique position as a nature attraction. 

Vardø island seen from Hornøya bird cliff. Hasselnes is to the furthest right in the photo. The concrete pier on Hasselnes is actually the old sea dump. What was not burnt on land was dumped in the sea. Now Hasselnes is on its way to becoming a new attraction in Vardø town.

Hornøya bird cliff photographed from Hasselnes. This is home to 100 000 seabirds. 

Glaucous Gull flying past Hasselnes. Photographed during the recent bird festival Gullfest 2015.

King Eiders are gathering in huge numbers around Vardø island. This is part of a megaraft of 7500+ birds seen from the Hasselnes bird hide during Gullfest 2015 .

Bird artist Lars Jonsson was one of the first to use the new hide. 

The design is based on creating sheltered spaces, but with great views towards the rich birdlife around Hasselnes. Depending on wind and weather you can choose your place to sit. 

A long bench on the east side of the hide provides great views of Hornøya. 

A very big thanks to all involved in this project!
Varanger is becoming icreasingly better, and we hope you find the bird hides both sheltering and inviting. 

Follow us on twitter @BiotopeOffice or like us on the Biotope Facebook page to stay tuned with more pro nature projects fromVaranger and beyond.

Tormod A. / Biotope

22 March 2015

Ivory Gull in Varanger - the great white

Ivory Gull. The name itself rings of exclusiveness. This is the great white of the Arctic. A dream bird rarely seen unless you travel to the high arctic.

18 March 2015

Gullfest 2015 - art, architecture & science in the Arctic

Varangers iconic Steller´s Eider - field study by bird artist Lars Jonsson, Varanger March 2015

Lars Jonsson - field studies of Steller´s Eiders

11 March 2015

Gullfest 2015 - Arctic Art & Architecture in progress

Gyrfalcon by Lars Jonsson ©, Gullfest 2015 artist, talking at Unni´s Kafé in Vardø on Friday at 19.00hrs. Surely the birding talk of the year in Varanger.

Gullfest 2015 is just about to start. We have a lot happening at the same time these days: 
- A new Varanger Peninsula National Park Exhibitions opened yesterday, designed by Biotope in collaboration with Varanger Museum. 
- We have a new bird hide / wind shelter being built, to be ready for opening on Saturday on the Gullfest base camp. 
- The base camp itself is being set up ready for this weekend. 
- Our invited artists Lars Jonsson, James McCallum and Jonnie Fisk are already in the field creating their magic take on the Varanger birdlife!

03 March 2015

GULLFEST 2015 - Art & Birding in the Arctic

GULLFEST 2015 in Vardø, March 13-15 
(click on poster for slide show view)

The annual arctic bird festival, Gullfest, is coming up very soon! This year we go back to basics, with a big lavvo basecamp in Vardø. Local super chef Tor Emil will serve great Varanger food. We are very happy to say that Lars Jonsson, the world famous bird artist will join us! At Biotope we think art is an amazing way to show nature, so in addition we are very pleased that the brilliant UK bird artist James McCallum will join us to, together with up and coming bird artist Jonnie Fisk.

22 February 2015

Birding Architecture - bird hides & nature reserve innovation

 Merlin (adult female) at Snettisham RSPB reserve, Feb 2015

3000 kilometers on the road in UK 


On our recent tour around UK Tormod from Biotope and Graham White from RSPB visited several of RSPB´s nature reserves. We have also given many talks, both public and staff talks at various places, from Dorset in the south to Minsmere in the east and Flamborough in the north. Our aim has been to share ideas and inspire people by presenting our work. This article feature some thoughts and ideas presented on the UK tour.

23 January 2015

Biotope & RSPB touring UK

We are very happy to launch a new UK tour! Tormod from Biotope and Graham White from RSPB will be giving talks at Minsmere, Poole or Flamborough. We hope to see you in February!

The great guys at ´Birds of Poole Harbour´ made this introduction:

"The talk is titled ‘Viewing the Future’ and focuses on how interaction between people, wildlife and the natural world can be managed in such a way, creating a totally new experience for visitors to a nature reserve or to the public in an urban area. The presentation will be spit into two parts, the first being presented by the RSPBs senior wetland ecologist, Graham White who will talk about how to maximise nature reserve design for both people and wildlife. The second half will be hosted by Tormod Amundsen from Biotope, the worlds first (and only) Ornithological Architects. Biotope are a Norwegian based company that specialises in 'thinking outside the box' when it comes to interpreting the natural world. Biotopes concepts and bird hide ideas have become widely talked about across the country over the last few years, prompting Tormod to host his second tour here in the UK (last one was in 2013) and sharing some of their ideas and visions." 

22 January 2015

Arkitekter med luft under vingene

Artikkel fra magasinet Arkitektur N (nr8-2014) / Article from Norwegian Architecture magazine Arkitektur N (This article about Biotope is in Norwegian, but with an English summary at the end ).

Biotope er verdens første fuglekikkerarkitektkontor. De har skapt en egen nisje for sin virksomhet ved å koble kunnskaper som vanligvis ikke møtes. Tormod Amundsen forteller om arbeidet som fuglekikkerarkitekt i Varanger:

31 December 2014

The Dark Knights

Arctic chillout

Purple Sandpipers are some of the toughest birds on the planet. Too often these birds go by unnoticed, and they are rarely on any ´top birds list´. In fact in Varanger we often make that mistake too. The striklingly beautiful King Eiders and Steller´s Eider grab our attention. It is about time we make a tribute to the toughest of birds. These guys are found in Varanger all year, and somehow they manage survive the arctic winter.

13 December 2014

Northern Norway Architecture Award 2014 to Biotope

"Nordnorsk arkitekturpris tildeles ´Fugleskjul i Varanger´, mottaker: Biotope"

Juryens begrunnelse:
"Nordnorsk arkitekturpris 2014 gis til et prosjekt som forholder seg til årstidsrytmene og kombinerer kunnskap og erfaring fra forskjellige fagfelt. På strategiske punkter, i forhold til globale migrasjonsmønster, skaper prosjektet en diskret infrastruktur for tilstedeværelse og observasjon. Prosjektet legger til rette for miljøbevisst turisme, stedsutvikling og forskning. Her kan besøkende komme nært innpå livsrytmen til de fugleartene som gjester kysten vår hvert eneste år."