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Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL

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Natural Amplifiers – The Bird Table – Fred Guttfield

  • On July 15, 2006

Fred Guttfield ´s work explores the contested territory between technology and nature. He designs 'Natural Amplifiers' which highlight the necessity and beauty found in nature and natural behaviours. 'The Bird Table' is his latest project. Fred explains: “The current garden bird feeder is a typical example of design in spite of nature. The bird feeder exhibits few natural characteristics but as a result of regular interaction with local birds begins to condition the birds to Pavlovian levels.' Using a combination of observation and parametric design methods the 'Bird Table' went through a number of iterations to behave not just in response to the birds that interacted with it but also to human and wider environmental factors. In this way the table has developed its own behaviours, moods and rhythms in tandem with the ecology in which it is sited.”


The table is based on a rocking arm with an accelerometer which logs the oscillations of the system. This enables the system to detect various patterns and levels of bird behaviour. Responses can be made back through the amplification arm and its inbuilt fan mechanism. The video shows various bird and table behaviours and the development of dialogue between nature and technology.

As an extension of the bird table, Fred´s project is nocturnally active. All movements of the system during daylight hours, including responses triggered by users and weather, are memorised. Darkness brings about the reenacting of these events for the human observer. This 'Echo State' is intended to extend the human experience of the bird table, leading to a wider understanding of the system.


  1. studio octopi

    would be interested in talking to Fred regarding installation in a client’s garden

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