Art Gene and its associate, Research Design architecture, have developed a new modular concept in hides design which is flexible in use. The system is based around weatherproof plywood equilateral triangles with 8ft sides supported on an easy release scaffolding exoskeleton.

This allows for the hides to be erected and taken down by a team of trained volunteers, and relocated or re-used in different configurations or locations across the reserve as changing needs, or points of interest dictate.

The two new hides designs use marine windows, and local joiners and boat building resin techniques. They have opening windows, to allow for photography, wooden flaps, elbow benches and domed perspex windows in the roof, for extra light.

Twice as large as the current hides, these new structures are developed to give enough space for a multitude of needs and users. The new structures, are light and airy allowing individual birders, as well as schools groups to be accommodated, extending the trust’s education and engagement offer. The entrance to the hides, will be masked with hazel hurdles, and will create an area to gather and talk with a group outside, before entering the hide.

One hide is a facility to develop educational use, and group visits to be sited at Gate pond near the entrance of the reserve. The other is to be sited towards the south of the island looking out across the spit, and area with a large gull colony and where currently the seals haul up, it will help access spectacular views of Piel castle and out across Morecambe Bay.

Livery – Hides don’t have to Hide!

The hides have been given an artists’ hand painted bold modern livery, using coloured roofing resin on exterior walls and roofs. Working with natures existing bold colours the hides are a ‘razzle dazzle’ – a camouflage of sorts suggesting a historical reference of wartime dazzle ships. Dazzle painting broke up the shape of an object, like camouflage does, adding protection at sea or on land.

The dazzle design covers half of the hide, the rest is hand painted trompe-l’oeil style with an 8ft bird egg pattern (herring gull or oystercatcher) – A nod to Niko Tinbergern’s nobel prize winning research and experiments with gull egg size and colour on the Walney reserve.

The hides have developed from a detailed consultation process with users of the site, birders, Cumbria Wildlife Trust staff and trustees, the general public as well as more open conversations with schools, and historical and community groups, residents and business that use the reserve.

Download Art Gene Associate’s initial concept designs to discover more about how these hides took shape.
Download 1
Download 2
Download 3
Download 4
Download 5

Initial concept designs for Razzle-Dazzle Hides, by Stuart Bastik and Charlie MacKeith.

Supported by
Wren, Arts Council England, Cumbria Wildlife Trust

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