Last year we came to realize that there was a developing trend among creatives to scope their designs towards the animals of the city. Birdhouses, especially in countries like the Netherlands where city people show a great sympathy for birds, seem to pop up in unexpected places. Sometimes, depending on the design of the construction, theses birdhouses might also function as an urban intervention.
Developed by the Taiwan-based industrial designer Shu-Chun Hsiao, the Google Birdhouse is such a concept. He created a series of urban birdhouses that are inspired by the Google Maps marker symbol. It is interesting to realize how tightly this simple pinpoint marker is cognitively related to the services of Google Maps and how it has actually developed into a landmark symbol.
Additionally, the designer links the everyday capability of people to find their way in the city via technology with the natural ability of birds to find their destination through the streets. “A birdhouse becomes their destination as Google Map does”, in Hsiao’s words.
Apart from being a cute intervention in the urban environment, these birdhouses are associated with the trending topic of the merge between physical and virtual world. Based on this idea, a concept called ‘map’ has been developed in the recent past by the German artist Aram Bartholl, who created a series of public space installations inspired by the same Google marker. By placing huge Google markers on the same spot that the mapping service identifies as the centre of the city, the artist wishes to question the relation of the digital space to the urban daily life in the real space.