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Mobile islands for birds in the city. Meet the Kwapromek project

Dobrawa Bies
24 of November '22

{tag:studenci} from the Faculty of Architecture and Design at the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdansk worried about the lack of urban nesting habitats for waterfowl decided to remedy this in a simple and ingenious way. His proposal submitted to the Arting 2022 competition is an island made of polyethylene and overgrown with abundant aquatic vegetation. Meet Kwapromek.

The Arting 2022 "city?" project is a nationwide industrial design competition aimed at building awareness of the importance of design in sustainable development through the creation of innovative design solutions. Entries were submitted in three categories: Technology, Environment and Bielsko-Biala. We wrote about the entire competition and its results here. In the Environment category, the award went to the project Modular System for Balcony Balustrades by Klaudia Chodura from the Academy of Fine Arts in Cracow. Kuba Neumann from the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdansk also submitted his work, which admittedly did not receive an award, but it is worth noting the solutions proposed by the author to improve the quality of life for animals in the city.

 Porastająca wyspę roślinność ułatwia schowanie gniaza

The vegetation overgrowing the island makes it easier to hide the nest

© Kuba Neumann

how to help urban aquatic flora and fauna?

The project, called Kwapromek, was realized in the Product Design Studio led by Prof. Jaroslaw Szymanski and Dr. Jacek Ryn at the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdansk.

My project is a response to the changing landscape of cities, particularly in the area of water bodies. In the past, rivers and access to water were crucial - settlements and cities were established near them. Nowadays, it can be seen that a large part of the revitalized sections of rivers in cities is devoid of all aquatic and coastal vegetation, which in the natural environment acts as shelter for animals, and helps filter the water, improving its quality. I was inspired to create the project by my attempts to solve the problem of the lack of nesting environments for waterfowl in cities," says Kuba Neumann.

The design student conducted research before embarking on the project and noted several interesting suggestions. One of them was an action led by the Urban Water Foundation to transform an industrial canal in Chicago into a floating park.

The action began by collecting trash and allowing freshwater mussels into the canal to filter the water. Floating platforms were then created, allowing plants to be placed and planted in them, which became a refuge for many species of animals, Cuba summarizes.

Kwapromek wykonany jest z polietylenu

Kwapromek is made of polyethylene

© Kuba Neumann

Another example is the activity of the Onwater Foundation, which establishes water gardens in Wroclaw and Poznan. The main task of such gardens-islands is to improve biodiversity. The designer also came across a brochure developed as part of the project "My Wilderness. Engaging local communities in the conservation of nature and landscape of the Kampinos National Park and its buffer zone," which shows how filter islands can be made , and which plants are best suited for such a construction.

Projekt Kwapromek, rysunki

Kwapromek project, technical drawings

© Kuba Neumann

"Ferry" for waterfowl

However, in the proposals Kuba Neumann found, he lacked industrial solutions that would be immediately ready to use, or with little effort. Solutions that could be used by private customers as well as local governments or state organizations. The answer to this shortage may be Kwapromek, whose main function is to provide waterfowl with space in which to nest and hide. This is made possible by the abundant vegetation covering the entire buoyancy platform constructed by the designer.

Projekt Kwapromek, render

Kwapromek project, render

© Kuba Neumann

One of the guidelines of the competition was to respect material and energy in creation. My material proposal forming the platform is polyethylene. This plastic is characterized by high weather resistance, high resistance to external mechanical impact, both at elevated temperatures and negative temperatures. Polyethylene can be fully recycled and reused, which fits in with the project's goals of object longevity and the possibility of easy and effective repair, the author explains.

Kwapromek składa się z dwóch elementów, wytworzonych i łączonych w wyniku procesu termoformowania

The Kwapromek consists of two elements, manufactured and joined by a thermoforming process

© Kuba Neumann

a simple solution for improving the environment

The Kwapromek consists of two elements, manufactured and joined by a thermoforming process. A specially shaped rim and seal prevents water from entering the structure. The rough texture is designed to facilitate root growth around the object. The middle zone has been contoured to mimic the natural environment. This zone is also equipped with holes that will allow the roots to come into contact with the water reservoir and ensure continuous water exchange. The outside of the Kwapromek also has holes that allow the island to be moored to the shore, or attached to the bottom with an anchor.

Na Kwapromku mocuje się matę jutową, na której sadzona jest roślinność wodna

A jute mat is fixed on the Kwapromek, on which aquatic vegetation is planted

© Kuba Neumann

The task of the caretaker of the Kwapromek would be to fix the jute mat on it, select and plant the plants, and secure them with jute string to protect them from strong winds. The island, prepared in this way, should be placed on a body of water and secured against floating away. The last step would be to check from time to time whether the vegetation and later also the birds are developing properly.

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