The Diverse Design Of Wetlands Architecture

The unique composition of wetlands reserves makes for an inviting home for a diverse array of birds and wildlife. It also makes their accessibility to visitors very different to other types of nature reserve. With much of the landscape fairly flat, observation towers have the advantage of not needing excessive elevation to provide interesting views of the reserve, allowing architects to create diverse structures that suit and support each wetlands reserve.

1. The East Usk Lighthouse, Newport Wetlands, UK

wetlands, architecture, lighthouse, newport, east usk

The East Usk Lighthouse is a popular tourist attraction in the Newport Wetlands Reserve, and still functions as a lighthouse to this day. Image source

Newport Wetlands Reserve is a haven for wildlife in the region, home to bird species such as Cetti's warblers and bearded tits, as well as ducks, geese and swans. Fed by the Severn estuary, the wetlands are a popular attraction all year round, with an RSPB visitor centre, cafe, shop, and children’s play area.

The East Usk Lighthouse is a popular attraction particularly with photographers, and unlike its counterpart the West Usk Lighthouse - which has been decommissioned and operates now as a hotel - the East Usk Lighthouse still sends out flashes of light every 10 seconds. Playing a vital role in marine safety for over 100 years, the East Usk Lighthouse was originally built on legs that were eventually covered as the level of the land increased (due to the tipping of fly ash from the Uskmouth Power Station).

2. The Tower viewing deck at Cheetham Wetlands

cheetham, wetlands, architecture, melbourne, reserve

The Cheetham Wetlands Tower provides visitors with a unique vantage point to view the reserve. Image source

Australia’s Cheetham Wetlands are located approximately 20 km southwest of Melbourne. Spanning 420 hectares, the Cheetham Wetlands are home to both natural and artificial lagoons, created on old salt works land.

The Cheetham Wetlands are a crucial bird haven, providing important feeding and habitat areas for thousands of migratory birds from regions such as Siberia, New Zealand, and Japan.

The Tower within the wetlands reserve provides visitors with a unique vantage point from which to view the sensitive ecology of the wetlands, providing a striking contrast of the city skyline as a backdrop to the marshes.

The tower has ramped access to the main observation deck, but the very peak is only accessible via a circular staircase.

The Tower is a public art commission and was built as a dedication to "Migration and Aspirations"; a visual symbol and celebration of migration to Australia which connects visitors with the migrating wildlife.

3. The Tralee Bay Wetlands Nature Reserve

tralee, bay, wetlands, architecture, tower,

The Tralee Bay viewing tower reaches 20 metres, offering visitors views of the 8000-acre reserve. Image source

The Tralee Bay Nature Reserve encompasses over 8,000 acres with an activity area that is free to access. Visitors can enjoy lakeside walks and use the picnic area as well as take pedal boats, canoes and rowing boats out onto the lake. There is also a smaller lake stocked with freshwater fish that has demonstrations for those who wish to learn how to fish.

The Tralee Bay Wetlands Nature Reserve has an interactive wildlife exhibition for guests to experience, including a guided nature boat tour, bird hides and a nature boardwalk. The real attraction is the viewing tower which reaches a height of 20 metres, offering visitors views of the massive reserve which reaches out into the mouth of the bay and the beautiful Slieve Mish mountains.

4. The Peacock Tower at the London Wetland Centre

Peacock tower, london, wetlands, architecture, hide, reserve

Peacock Tower and the London Wetland Centre is a three storey hide which can be accessed by a lift. Image source

The London Wetland Centre brings the countryside to London, and is home to some 180 species of wildlife. First opened in 2000, the site is formed of four disused Victorian reservoirs positioned in a loop in the River Thames. In 2002, 29.9 hectares was designated a “Site of Special Scientific Interest” by the Barn Elms Wetland Centre. The wetlands contain lakes, pools, and gardens that are home to a great variety of birds such as kingfishers and sand martins as well as wading birds and plenty of ducklings to fawn over.

The London Wetland Centre has incorporated six hides within its grounds, including their three storey hide, the Peacock Tower, which can be accessed by a lift. Each of the hides is ideal for wildlife watching and photography, providing up-close views of birds, butterflies, dragonflies, frogs, lizards, water voles, and all sorts to the patient observer.

The Abu Dhabi Flamingo Observation Tower competition

Even in regions where wetlands do not occur naturally, they offer visitors a chance to interact with some unique wildlife.

In collaboration with Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD), the Abu Dhabi Flamingo Observation Tower competition is calling for submissions for designs for an observation tower in the Al Wathba Wetland Reserve in Abu Dhabi. The man-made reserve in the UAE capital is home to a spectacular flock of some 4,000 migratory flamingos during the winter months.

Participants are being asked to create designs for an observation tower and accompanying boardwalk so that visitors can fully immerse themselves in the stunning wildlife of the reserve. Projects will need to be mindful of the unique environment, as well as have the potential to become an iconic landmark in the region.

Open architecture competitions

  • Closest Deadline first
  • Project competitions first
    Selected winning projects have the potential to be constructed
  • Ideas competitions first
    Experimental competitions with the focus on pushing the boundaries of creativity
ideas COMPETITION
The Last Nuclear Bomb Memorial

Design a memorial that speaks to the cause of ending all nuclear weapons programs

Prize: MONETARY AWARD
Eligibility: OPEN TO ALL

registration deadlines

Remind me
Dec 15
Jan 27
Apr 21
Register now
ideas COMPETITION
Toronto Affordable Housing Challenge

Design affordable housing solutions for Toronto

Prize: MONETARY AWARD + PUBLICATION IN THE BOOK
Eligibility: OPEN TO ALL

registration deadlines

Remind me
Dec 16
Jan 28
Apr 22
Register now
project COMPETITION
Omuli Museum of the Horse

Reimagine a historical primary school into a museum for horses

Prize: MONETARY AWARD + CONSTRUCTION
Eligibility: OPEN TO ALL

registration deadlines

Remind me
Dec 14
Jan 26
Apr 23
Register now
ideas COMPETITION
SKYHIVE 2021 Skyscraper Challenge

Fourth annual competition to redefine the modern-day skyscraper

Prize: MONETARY AWARD
Eligibility: OPEN TO ALL

registration deadlines

Remind me
Dec 17
Jan 29
Apr 23
Register now
project COMPETITION
Sleeping Pods on a Cliff

Design a series of sleeping pods for a Portugal yoga retreat

Prize: MONETARY AWARD + CONSTRUCTION
Eligibility: OPEN TO ALL

registration deadlines

Remind me
Dec 18
Feb 01
Apr 27
Register now
project COMPETITION
Tiny Kiwi Meditation Cabin

Design a meditation space in New Zealand

Prize: MONETARY AWARD + CONSTRUCTION
Eligibility: OPEN TO ALL

registration deadlines

Remind me
Dec 21
Feb 02
Apr 28
Register now
project COMPETITION
Spirala Community Home

Create a community home for the Spirala Ecological Village

Prize: MONETARY AWARD + CONSTRUCTION
Eligibility: OPEN TO ALL

registration deadlines

Remind me
Dec 22
Feb 03
Apr 29
Register now
ideas COMPETITION
Berlin Techno Booth

Bring back techno music to the streets of Berlin by designing individual dance booths

Prize: MONETARY AWARD
Eligibility: OPEN TO ALL

registration deadlines

Remind me
Mar 23
Apr 20
Jul 06
Register now
ideas COMPETITION
Modular Home Design Challenge 2021

Design a modular dream home

Prize: MONETARY AWARD + PUBLICATION IN THE BOOK
Eligibility: OPEN TO ALL

registration deadlines

Remind me
Mar 24
Apr 21
Jul 07
Register now
essay COMPETITION
Essay: Modular Architecture

How modular design has impacted architecture?

Prize: MONETARY AWARD + PUBLICATION IN THE BOOK
Eligibility: OPEN TO ALL

registration deadlines

Remind me
Mar 25
Apr 22
Jul 08
Register now
ideas COMPETITION
Hospice - Home for Terminally Ill

Design a safe and supportive space for those struggling with a terminal illness

Prize: MONETARY AWARD
Eligibility: OPEN TO ALL

registration deadlines

Remind me
Mar 30
Apr 27
Jul 13
Register now
project COMPETITION
Romantic Cabin For Two

Design a romantic and secluded cabin for two in New Zealand

Prize: MONETARY AWARD + CONSTRUCTION
Eligibility: OPEN TO ALL

registration deadlines

Remind me
Mar 31
Apr 28
Jul 14
Register now
project COMPETITION
Monte d'Oiro Wine Hotel

Design a new hotel set within a beautiful Portuguese Monte d'Oiro vineyard

Prize: MONETARY AWARD + CONSTRUCTION
Eligibility: OPEN TO ALL

registration deadlines

Remind me
Apr 01
Apr 29
Jul 15
Register now
essay COMPETITION
Essay: Architecture of Illusions

Do you have something to say about illusions in architecture?

Prize: MONETARY AWARD + PUBLICATION IN THE BOOK
Eligibility: OPEN TO ALL

registration deadlines

Remind me
Apr 02
Apr 30
Jul 16
Register now
ideas COMPETITION
MICROHOME 2021 - Small living, huge impact!

Design a new concept of small-scale architecture

Prize: MONETARY AWARD + PUBLICATION IN MAGAZINE
Eligibility: OPEN TO ALL

registration deadlines

Remind me
May 11
Sep 07
Nov 02
Register now
project COMPETITION
Legendary Bird Home 2021

Design a bird home to fund wildlife charities

Prize: MONETARY AWARD + PRODUCTION
Eligibility: OPEN TO ALL

registration deadlines

Remind me
May 11
Sep 07
Nov 02
Register now

ARCHITECTURE COMPETITIONS

Newsletter