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June 28, 2007

Contact: Ann Holdsworth
713/743-8153 (office)
832/387-9322 (cell)

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: A photo of Olga Bannova and her birdhouse is available on the Web here. A high-resolution photo is available by contacting Ann Holdsworth.

UH Professor Participates in Project to Join Humans and Nature in Space

Made from stainless steel and plastic, this birdhouse is not your typical high school shop project. Built by a University of Houston space architectural professor, the futuristic design of this birdhouse reflects the researcher’s perception of what one would look like if it was flown into orbit more than 220 miles above the Earth.

Professor Olga Bannova’s unique vision for a space-inspired birdhouse is her contribution to a remarkable Japanese endeavor called The Birdhouse Project. With a motto of “The Earth is our Nest,” The Birdhouse Project of Japan began in 1993 as a way to create futuristic environments where humans and nature coexist. While it began as a way to express the importance of environmental preservation, the project has evolved into a network of environment-related corporations and researchers.

Only a small number of architects are invited to participate in the project each year. Previous birdhouses have been modeled after airports, cars and yachts, but the 8th Birdhouse Exhibition marks the second time around for the “Space Designer-Designed Birdhouses.”

“It’s an honor, actually, to be invited,” Bannova said. “Very famous architects are participating in this project. I really like to do something like this because it’s different from the every-day work, but it was hard to do everything by myself.”

For the 2007 project, The Birdhouse Project invited Bannova and 10 other space designers to participate, including such luminaries as Cecilia Hertz, Andreas Volger and Seichi Onobori. Bannova accepted the challenge, along with $3,000 for expenses, and constructed a birdhouse made up of twisted steel and a plastic, spherical enclosure.

"The shape and structure of the model represents human progress that has always been driven by our striving for exploration and discovering new places and opportunities,” Bannova said. “The sphere was chosen not only because it is a planet-like shape, but also because it is a pressurized object form, which can be used designing human’s homes to survive in severe environments far away from the Earth.”

Although birds living – or human beings for that matter –comfortably in space is still a long way off, it’s the next logical step, Bannova said.

“Even now with the space station, astronauts and cosmonauts are spending a lot of time up there and it’s not a very comfortable environment,” Bannova said. “Why space? Because it’s human nature that we have to explore, and it’s the new frontier,” Bannova said. “It’s a dream. If we’re thinking about going there and doing something, it will be very important to make life comfortable.”

Bannova’s birdhouse will participate in a year-long exhibition as it travels throughout Japan with the other 10 birdhouses. After a year, the birdhouses will be showcased at The Birdhouse Project headquarters in Osaka, Japan.

The Birdhouse Project also conducts workshops throughout Japan to promote, nurture and protect a symbiotic relationship between humans and nature. Since The Birdhouse Project has an eye toward the future, the organizers also accept and display birdhouses designed by students.

For more information on the Birdhouse Project, visit

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