24 June 2018

Visiting Northwest Iceland - a June Biotope tour

Iceland have become a must visit country for anyone keen on seeing spectacular nature and dramatic light and scenaries. At times it seems like every second image on Instagram is from Iceland. Understandably so, as it is by far one on the most photogenic places in the world. However it is also a fact that most people go to the same places. A couple of select waterfalls and a certain plane wreck must be one of Icelands most photographed places. Most of these places are found in south Iceland. Since Biotope started working in Iceland a couple of years ago we have been privileged to travel around in north Iceland. The less explored Iceland. In many of the places we visit we find ourselves being the only ones there. Not for the lack of stunning scenaries or spectacular photo opportunities, it is simply less known. 


Puffin close up at Drangey bird cliff

Needless to say we were very excited when the northwestern regions destination companies invited your truly and my two Biotope colleagues Monica and Raymond to visit the northwest this June! The aim of our trip was to explore new places for bird hides, nature shelters and to further collect material for a potential birding destination guide book. In other words: a dream job! 

29 March 2018

Join the Biotope team

Biotope is an architecture office dedicated to nature. Through architecture we aim to bring people and nature closer together. We typically work with a wide range of small scale architecture projects, fascilitating for nature experiences. We specialise in outdoors living, birdwatching, nature photography, nature conservation and ecotourism projects. We are not your generalist architecture office working with everything from urbanism, housing to cultural buildings, etc. We love nature and we aim to work with organisations, companies and people that are passionate about nature. As such most of our work happens within the nature conservation and ecotourism scene. Through our work we aim to promote wildlife and nature, but we also see our work as being a great opportunity to positively contribute in rural communities such as Vardø where our office is based. In many ways we think of ourselves as destination designers and developers rather then architects for small scale buildings. We are a niche office, but that does not mean being narrowly focused in our work. In fact we work with everything from architecture to designing books, developing tourism concepts, branding, marketing, video productions, digital strategy, writing books and much more. We do not only provide architectural solutions for our clients we also help contextualise and promote both sigle architecture projects and onwards to destinations development projects. In many cases we do not wait for commisions to appear, but we initiate projects where we see possibilities. 

Vardø town and the Biotope office (currently under construction).

The Biotope office. We recently bought this building that for years was a fishermans workshop. Now we are in the process of adding a gallery, studio and a shop to the office upgrade.



JOBS



We are first and foremost looking for an architect og technical designer to join us in Vardø, preferably on a long term basis. We think we have found the dream place to live and work from, and now we hope to find a colleague that want to live in Vardø and be a part of building the office and make more good things happen! Although we are based in Vardø Biotope is currently doing projects in 9 countries, and we aim to build our international presence too.
  1. Architect / technical drawing
  2. Manage the Biotope UK office
  3. Manage the Biotope Iceland office
  4. Writer / videographer / consultant
If you want to know more about Biotope and our work it is very easy to get a sense of what we do through our various social media platforms. A good place to start is to read this interview with Biotope CEO Tormod :

Check out our weekly vlogs posted on Biotope Facebook and Biotope Youtube.

Architect / techical drawing:
We are now looking for an architect (or someone skilled in technical drawing) to work with us at our office in Vardø. You do not have to be a keen birder, nature photographer or a hard core wildlife enthusiast, but an appreciation for nature is important. As is a desire to be a part of a new kind of architectural practise. Too often architecture happens at the expense of nature. We aim to be an office that promote and protect nature, and we believe that good architecture can be a key part of that. We are looking for architects or technical designers that want to move to arctic Norway and work at our office in Vardø. However we are thinking long term and in (the unlikely) case you do not fall in completely in love with this small fishing town in the arctic, and decide to settle in the north, we hope you are the person that would want to continue to work with us in our up and coming UK based Biotope office. In short: we are looking for someone to work with long term. 

Biotope designed gapahuk (shelter & fireplace) in Varangerbotn, Finnmark.

UK office manager:
Again, like mentioned above, you do not have to be a birder, but a passion for nature is important. Biotope already have several projects built in UK and more are in progress. We believe that we have a lot to contribute with in the UK nature conservation and ecotourism scene. Equally we are ourselves hugely inspired by the same UK scene. The nature conservation efforts by both organisations and individuals in UK is of a wide ranging character and has become a culture and a large community in itself, with conservation organisations, wildlife artists, bird id specialists, presenters, bird ringers, sound recordists and so much more. But not architects. We aim to contribute as architects that speak up for nature and help promote nature through our work. We find the making and management of UK nature reserves to be very innovative, however we do miss innovation and variety in the birding architecture or bird hides / nature viewing shelters in the same reserves. With more requests from UK we think that we have a lot to offer and contribute with. Now we aim to set up a Biotope office in UK, and we are looking for the right person to help run the UK office. We hope to find someone with great project management skills and a drive and desire to establish a new and unique kind of architectural practise in UK.  We are flexible about where in UK, but preferably somewhere near good birding!

Biotope wind shelter at the RSPB Wallasea nature reserve in Essex, UK.

Iceland office manager:
Biotope is working on a wide range of projects in Iceland. These are destination development projects mostly geared towards the niches of birding and nature photography. However as the case is with most of our projects we aim to bring nature experiences to a wider audience, and as such many of our designs for  the Iceland projects are open and inviting wind shelters made for everyone, tourists and locals alike. Biotope have for a couple of years been a part of a series of projects in the north of Iceland focusing on nature based tourism. Now we hope that several of our designs will be built and we aim to strengthen our presence in Iceland to make make sure we can contribute even better in the future. We are currently doing project collaborations based out of Saudarkrokur, Akureyri and Husavik in north Iceland. Now we hope to find a great project manager in Iceland that want to be a part of building the Biotope Iceland office. We have had the privilege of working with a lot of good people in Iceland and we feel a strong connection to both people, landscape and wildlife in this amazing part of the world. If you are the right person (an architect, technical desinger or a project manager) that want to make new things happen in Iceland, please let us know! Takk fyrir.
A series of blogs and vlogs from our Iceland engagements can be found on our website (Example: http://www.biotope.no/2016/08/birding-north-iceland-nature.html)


Videographer / writer / consultant / word wizard
Biotope is more then a basic architetcture office. We do not wait for things happen. We make things happen. We do not sit around and wait for commisions to appear. We go after proejcts we think should become a reality. We aim to make a positive difference with what we do. In our own town Vardø and our region Varanger we have had the privilege of positively affecting the economy and even the indentity of Vardø and Varanger. In particular we want to expand our efforts to work in rural communities and to help build an appreciation for nature that extends to both identity and economy. To do this we need an word wizard or writer or a videographer. Essentially a content producer. We need to efficiently explain projects we aim to undertake. Get the stories told by whichever means that will make things more likely to happen. Often times this is writing a project proposal or writing an offer to a potential client. We are currently working quite a lot like a small media company as well as an architecture office. Our media and content production is an integral part of our architecture practise. We do architecture for a reason and we need to take ownership of this by telling the stories before, during and after a project. If you feel you are the right person to move Biotope forward let us know! 
-------------------

We hope you will join us in making good things happen and to build projects and an office that will make a positive difference for nature and people. The above 4 positions we are looking for is however something that will happen over some time. Biotope is not (yet) in a position to go foreward with everything in one go. We still wanted to make our intentions public, and what we prioritise will be based on you. To begin with we are very much interested in building our team in Vardø and if you see yourself living an arctic life we want to hear from you! 

In short:  
Feel free to submit your CV, portfolio and concise application to jobs@biotope.no, and let us know your skills and passion and what you can contribute with!

Many thanks, 
Tormod Amundsen, Architcect and CEO / Biotope
Vardø / Arctic Norway, March 2018

Vardø town by midnight sun

17 November 2017

Biotope philosophy & origin story - the AD interview

Biotope just won the Architectural Digest Design Award 2017 in the category architecture. 2017 have been a year where our work is getting quite a bit of recognition and momentum. We are both humbled and thankfull for everyone who have and continue to support our work. We have been fortunate to work with great clients from both the nature conservation scene, ecotourism businesses and onwards to local communities. We have since we started Biotope stayed true to our niche of architecture dedicated to nature experiences. 

As a part of the AD award Tormod was interviewed by the Architectural Digest. Below follows the interview, hopefully with some thoughts and insights you will find valuable. Thanks to AD for the award and a big thanks to everyone following our work as pro nature architects! 

The Kongsfjord cliff wind shelter / bivouac by polar night

30 June 2017

Biotope online resources


Nature-based architecture projects and destination development.

As our projects diversify, both by countries and by themes, we wanted to give you an overview of some key onlince resources and places you can connect with us. This website is to a large extent a blog form history of our projects since 2011. More then 100 blogposts have been written, and should it be printed it would make a couple of books. While we keep posting longer form articles on this website, much of our content production have moved to social media, like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram during the past couple of years. We have also started producing weekly video blogs posted on both Facebook and Youtube. 

06 May 2017

SNOW LEOPARDS - the Tibetan Plateau expedition

     
            


China, the Tibetan plateau, April 2017 

Snow Leopards are among the most rare and least seen mammals in the world. For nature enthusiasts it is probably the most desired mammal to see. Needless to say I was incredibly excited when I was invited by Terry Townshend of Birding Beijing to be a part of a Snow Leopard pilot tour to a newly discovered area for this amazing species. The vast Chinese Tibetan Plateau probably holds many undiscovered secrets, and among them is an area that seems to be heavily favoured by the Snow Leopards. This following brief blogpost is based on a 14 day visit in China, where 5 days was spent at an undisclosed location between 4000 and 5000 meters above sea level.

20 December 2016

On birdwatching and architecture


An essay on flare versus function

The world of birding is a bit of a paradox. Birdwatching or birding is a wildly popular hobby that attracts millions of people worldwide, while at the same time birdwatching is considered to be very niche and it is, despite its massive popularity, not well known by the general public. Birdwatching has long roots, and in some basic ways it can be considered a modern version of of the hunter-gatherer mentality we see reflected in other hobbies like hunting or fishing, which is no longer done for survival purposes but rather for recreational purposes. Birdwatching however have evolved beyond the hunter-gatherer mind set. Birdwatching is in fact an expression of the modern naturalist science based culture. The desire to understand nature in all of its complexity is a key to understanding birdwatching. Birdwatching is a natural progression from Charles Darwins evolution theory to modern day popular naturalist icons like David Attenborough. Birdwatching is in many ways science for the masses. It is, alongside astronomy, the largest knowledge and science based hobby in the world where the boundaries to its field is pushed forward by a large base of very keen enthusiasts rather than a small base of specialist professionals. Today birdwatching is a global culture with millions of birdwatchers contributing to an ever growing knowledge base of everything related to birds. The plattforms on which birdwatchers communicate are numerous. There are endless magazines, online forums, websites, organisations, companies, etc, catering to every need and want in the birdwatching community. What they all share is a deep passion for birds and nature, wether it is for hard core science purposes like research into bird species taxanomy or the pure artistic exploration of bird art and bird photography. 

06 August 2016

BIRDING NORTH ICELAND - Nature destination development


Biotope recently made another visit to northern Iceland. For the past two years we have made repeated trips to this amazing birding destination, as a part of a nature destination development project we are working on. In collaboration with local nature based businesses we are exploring the region with the aim of designing and building a series of bird hides, photo hides and wind shelters. 

19 June 2016

BIRDING RUSSIA - exploring the northwest russian tundra


Aerial view of the Kostuanoy Cape, our basecamp on the russian tundra


The Nenets State Nature Reserve is a vast tundra and wetland expanse bordering the russian Pechora sea. Biotope was recently invited by the good folks of the nature reserve to visit the reserve and to look into possibilities for creating bird hides and nature viewing architecture. It was an honor to be invited to this reserve and it has been a long time wish for us to visit and bird in Russia. We enjoy every opportunity to visit top nature destinations of the circumpolar regions. Invitations based on our birder architect skills are somthing we consider a big compliment every time. We will do our outmost to see and understand the needs of a destination and the people there and their ambitions to develop a destination. Advising on where and how to put up bird hides, wind shelters and other nature viewing facilities are the jobs we truly enjoy. In addition there are different interests to consider ranging from nature conservation issues to more nature based tourism business opportunities. Finding a balance is important. Making these interest work together is even better.

Версию нашего  отчета на русском языке смотрите ниже

05 June 2016

The Birding Varanger guide book - Arctic Norway sites & birds


"Varanger is the world´s most easily accessible Arctic birding destination. In Varanger, Arctic Norway,  you can experience the northern taiga, tundra and the Arctic coastline within a dya´s drive. Birders, birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts can enjoy an amazingly rich birdlife in a sutnning landscsape. Varanger is particularily famous for its wintering population of Steller´s Eiders. However the wide variety of unique bird species have made Varanger one of the top birding destinations of the world."



26 May 2016

Birding Northwest Iceland - May 2016




 Harlequin Duck, Blönduós May 2016


Nature destination development: Northwest Iceland

Iceland delivers some of the coolest birding in Europe. We just visited the northwestern region of Iceland, working on a destination development scheme. For 10 days we have visited, researched, measured and photographed a wide range of sites. Visiting Iceland is not "just" a birding thing: The landscape, the mammals and the people you meet are equally an important part of any visit to this cool destination. Not to mention the heitur pottur culture! Almost everywhere you go you can sink into  a relaxing hot bath, in the field, at your hotel or at any of the numerous public baths.