BAT TOWER is the first built prototype in the “Pest Architecture” project series, exploring strategies for increasing public awareness of bats as a critical component of our ecosystem. Bats are effective as natural pesticides, pollinators, and mosquito abatement. Yet they are often considered as a kind of urban pest, and are frequently exterminated by human-run ‘pest control’ services. Their very survival is also being challenged by White Nose Syndrome, a disease which has inexplicably been wiping out large bat populations in northeastern United States.
In order to bring visibility to bats, BAT TOWER challenges notions of the typical off-the-shelf bat house. Rather than innocuously fading into the background, the tower stands as a prominently visible outdoor sculpture. Drawing from the idea of a vertical cave, the installation has a heavy and intense presence, contrasting the lightness and invisibility associated with do-it-yourself bat house constructions.
BAT TOWER is sited and designed to attract and facilitate bat inhabitation. Located adjacent to a pond, the site boasts an abundance of mosquitoes and other bat-attracting insects. Chives, oregano and other bat-attracting herbs are planted within the base of the tower.
To help facilitate entry, the project’s ribbed construction includes a series of ‘landing pads’ near the top of the tower. A pattern of grooves on both vertical and horizontal surfaces allows bats to more easily climb into the tower and cling to its ‘ceilings.’ To provide a suitably warm interior for bat roosting, dark wood panels cover the tower’s inhabitation zone in order to absorb sunlight.
Location: Griffis Sculpture Park, East Otto, New York, USA
Architect: Ants of the Prairie
Project Director: Joyce Hwang
Collaborators and Assistants: Thomas Giannino, Michael Pudlewski, Laura Schmitz, Nicole Marple, Mark Nowaczyk, Dan Dimillo, Matt Salzer, Jake West, Matt Bain, Albert Chao, Joshua Gardner, Shawn Lewis, Sergio López-Piñeiro, Nellie Niespodzinski, Joey Swerdlin, Angela Wu.
Consultants: Katharina Dittmar, Mark Bajorek, Dick Yencer.
Project funded by: New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) Independent Projects Grant Fiscal Sponsor: Van Alen Institute
With support from: New York State/United University Professions’ Dr. Nuala McGann Drescher Program, University at Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning
Completion Date: 2010
Photographers: Joyce Hwang, Albert Chao