Newcastle Station Clock

Newcastle Station Clock

Friday, 8 April 2011

The Kofi Shift Notes: Birdwatching

Look at any artsy concept render or student final presentation lately and you will notice a common feature in them all, gracefully lifting into the sky will be a flock of birds.
A Google search with the query "why do so many renders have birds in?" offers no answers, so it's going to be down to me to find out these answers.

A render of a building without entourage will look bear and unloved, when filled with people enjoying themselves and generally being happy it is often enough to convince clients a building will be successful. It may be that many buildings these days are designed with the birds enjoyment in mind. (And in these eco-conscious days, what could be better?) The birds could be being placed in the renders as a demonstration of how well loved the building is by those birds lucky enough to be inhabiting its roof line. A downfall to this suggestion is that a bird is greatly inhibited in its ability to smile by the fact it has a beak instead of a mouth and therefore will struggle to show its enjoyment through a smile. Ambiguity is not something which is desirable in renders, at least not when enjoyment is concerned.

Another helpful feature of entourage in renders is that it allows the viewer to understand the scale of the building as they can compare it against something which they can recognise. This is all very good when the entourage is human and can it can be assumed they are around 1.7m high, but the blurred, distant silhouettes of the birds can be tricky to identify for anyone by the most keen birdwatcher. They could be anything from the 5cm long Mellisuga helenae (Bee Humming Bird) to the 3m tall Aepyornis maximus (Elephant Bird). OK so it might not not be the Elephant Bird because their extinct and never flew anyway but a Diomedea exulans (Wandering Albatross) still has a wingspan of 3.5 metres. So birds aren't really a good visual aid for estimating the size of a building.

Another possibility is that the birds are there for a bit of context. Renders need to show some context for the area to give an idea of how the building fits in with its surroundings, so if there are a lot of birds around the site then why shouldn't there be birds in the renders. However under the same argument then shouldn't there be litter, graffiti and rats in renders, you are as the saying says "never more than 10ft (3048mm) from a rat." So maybe the birds aren't there for context after all.

So I conclude with the definitive answer as to why birds so regularly appear in renders:

The Kofi Shift Notes are written during a Kofi Bar shift in the space of an hour and under the heavy influence of caffeine, whilst it starts with what may be a sound fact, the resulting rambles are probably best ignored for any real truth. For further Kofi Shift Notes visit my author page here.


  1. It could simply be that birds are included in one portion of the sky to distract from the excessive and obvious use of the clone stamp tool in another portion of the sky...

  2. clone stamp tool....i never thought of that
    a valid point extRORYdinary

  3. people like detail in a building, intricate forms.
    unfortunately our atopic state of architecture can't afford attractive architecture, so in la-la render land, why not attract pretty things for free?

    I'm waiting to see all the bird crap they drop appearing in a render soon

  4. Probably because some maverick-genius at the AA did it in 1996. It was the most important thing to happen to architecture in the last two decades.