About this Project
The Seven Islands State Birding Park (formerly Seven Islands Wildlife Refuge) is a 360-acre wildlife sanctuary located less than 20 miles east of Knoxville on former farmland along the French Broad River. Though designated as a wildlife sanctuary, the property offers low-impact recreation opportunities to the public. Its recreational assets include wildlife observation, hiking, and a small boat launch. Home to many species of birds, fish, and mammals, the site also functions as an educational and research facility for land use and habitat management techniques.
A project website was created by the students and can be visited at: http://siwrstudio.squarespace.com/
Architecture and landscape architecture students from the University of Tennessee and University of Krakow (Poland) explored the park’s habitats and created design programs and projects for public education and ecological interpretation. The student work included site analysis of environmental systems, and design of an interpretive center and nature observatories.
- To instill an understanding of landscapes as part of dynamic, natural processes.
- To enable visitors to experience habitats as they unfold in walking through the refuge.
- To provide-low impact building development that complements natural resources.
Students created designs for an interpretive center that would:
- Define the vehicular entrance to the refuge.
- Lend an understanding to the rich history of regional and local landforms, soils, vegetation, water resources and climate.
- Serve as the place to orient visitors to the assets of the park, its trails and observatories.
- Provide a place for education and community events.
- Showcase environmentally sensitive design measures, including solar panels, rain harvesting and water reuse.
- Feature education facilities, including bird feeding platforms, classrooms, exhibition space, and a laboratory to conduct research and testing on site.
Paths currently exist and others were designed as means to allow access through the various landscape types, leading to on-site observatories. Students’ designs are intended to celebrate the range of landscape characteristics, encouraging understanding of the unique ecosystems of the refuge. They seek to recognize patterns and variations of wildlife habitat in relation to the seasons and land forms, such as fields, ponds, wetlands, upland forests and the river. With time, these observatories may allow long-term interpretation of environmental change.