SHELTER NOTES: The Original Green Architects

arch birds & insects

The second in a series inspired by the University of Colorado School of Architecture’s ongoing design work for the future home of the Rocky Mountain Land Library.

One of our earliest, and most favorite, natural history books was Karl von Frisch’s Animal Architecture. This book opened our eyes to the ingenious wildlife structures in our midst, from bird’s nests and spider webs to prairie dog burrows and beaver dens. Looking back, we were as captured by the natural beauty of these structures, as we were by their time-tested utility.

The Land Library has never been able to resist books on this subject. As our animal architecture collection has grown, our only question is where to shelve these wonderful volumes — as part of our animal behavior section, or as the logical start to our shelves on achitecture and the built environment?

Here’s a few of our favorite books on one of our favorite topics. Peggy McNamara’s Architecture by Birds and Insects: A Natural Art (pictured above) is a particularly striking volume. (McNamara was inspired by the vast nest collection at Chicago’s Field Museum).

And here’s a few more fun books:

built by animalsjames gould
Built by Animals: The Natural History of Animal Architecture by Mike Hansell, Animal Architects: Building and the Evolution of Intelligence by James Gould & Carol Grant Gould

extended organismdetmod wasp small
The Extended Organism: The Physiology of Animal-Built Structures by J. Scott Turner, along with E.J. Detmold’s beautiful illustration of a wasp nest, from Fabre’s Book of Insects by Jean-Henri Fabre

Animal architecture is very well represented at our Waterton Canyon Kids Nature Library too!

Burrows, Nests & Lairs: Animal Architects, Animal Architects by John Nicholson, and The Architecture of Animals: The Equinox Guide to Wildlife Structures by Adrian Forsyth:

adrian forsyth

Next week’s Shelter Note: Built by Hand: Vernacular Architecture across the World. Please join us!

And, we can’t sign off without a nod to one of the most clever animal architects. Found along fast-moving stream bottoms, the caddis fly builds a sturdy tube-shaped home, using whatever substance at hand: gravel, twigs — even shells!



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