[WORK IN PROGRESS] LESS A BUILDING: Interactions with the London Zoo Aviary
Research project and publication
"the Snowdon Aviary (1961) at London Zoo ... is less a building in the conventional sense than a set of spatial possibilities facilitated by an inherently flexible structure."
**Owen Hopkins, Mavericks: Breaking the Mould of British Architecture, 2016
A collaborative artist's book documenting a series of 'interactions' with the London Zoo Aviary by a group of contemporary artists and writers. Playful in its form and design, the work will celebrate the aviary's dynamic crystalline construction, its particular architectural atmosphere, and its role as a catalyst for experimental thinking. The book will be shaped around a series of conversations between contributors and its format will reflect the dialogic nature of the research.
The project reflects my longstanding interest in the Aviary, and builds on a body of film, sculptural and collage works
made between 2012-18. Its publication will coincide with the aviary's upcoming refurbishment, and aims to:
"Habitat for Price was not a replica of place but a site that harbored the interactions of all shades of participant ... As such, Price was essentially unconcerned with aesthetic cohesiveness because meaning for him did not reside in the qualities of an object per se, but was continually constructed through the varied perceptions of those who engage it. The work was left open to be completed by its users. Thus the abstraction of the "natural" features of the habitat was not a formalist gesture but part of a framework which allows interaction to happen. Cliff, ramps, plants, and cage represent no particular known or imagined habitat but a habitat waiting to be.
**Hadas Steiner, 'Birds of a Feather' in Charissa Terranova and Meredith Tromble (eds.), The Routledge Companion to Biology in Art & Architecture, 2016
**CALL FOR CONTRIBUTORS: APRIL 2019
- recall Cedric Price's original design thinking at this pivotal moment in the building's history
- consider what Price's notions of impermanence, flexibility and planned obsolescence mean for the structure now
- explore the idea of the aviary not as a fixed architectural form but as a changing, adaptive environment that facilitates interaction
- reflect on the sounds, rhythms and dynamics of the aviary and their role in creating its sense of place
- chart networks of relations observed over time between structure+birds; between visitors+birds; and between keepers+birds, in this very particular avian habitat
I am looking for ornithologists, keepers or enthusiasts who have worked or conducted research in the Snowdon Aviary to share their experiences of the space and any remembered observations of the birds' patterns of behaviour and interactions with the architecture. I would also be very interested to hear any audio recordings that might have been made in the aviary while it was open.
Please get in touch via email
. Many thanks.
"How one ought to describe the mesh itself is a nice problem: for example, although there is an obvious sense in which one can see through it, there is another, perhaps less obvious (or obviously important) sense in which one cannot. It is not transparent, but opaque; one looks both at and past it - as opposed to the way one looks through a pane of glass. By partly superimposing at an angle two meshes of different degrees of openness, Caro establishes a plane of variation, not of transparency exactly, but of visual density. It is as though the mesh is seen as cross-hatching - as literal but disembodied shading or value."
**Michael Fried, 'New Work by Anthony Caro' in Art and Objecthood: Essays and Reviews, 1998