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McGregor Coxall to Turn a Landfill into a Safe Landing for Migratory Birds

Birds of a feather flock together is a proverb we’ll soon see in action through urban planning firm McGregor Coxall’s upcoming project, “Bird Airport.” With construction expected to begin in Tianjin, China in late 2017, and slated for completion by 2018, the project aims to decrease the number of endangered bird species by providing a safe place for migrating birds to access shelter and food during their long journey across Asia.


McGregor Coxall’s rendering of a planned observation pod.

Every year, more than 50 million birds migrate from the Antarctic to the northern tip of the Earth across the East Asian-Australian Flyway (EAAF). By the time the birds reach the Port of Tianjin, they have already traveled for more than 6,000 miles for 10 days non-stop. This arduous journey makes the Bird Airport a crucial stopping point to ensure their survival.

Adrian McGregor, founder and CEO of McGregor Coxall, shared his excitement about the project, saying, “The Earth’s bird flyways are a wonder of the natural world. The proposed ‘Bird Airport’ will be a globally significant sanctuary for endangered migratory bird species whilst providing new green lungs for the city of Tianjin.”

With enough capacity to support the needs of more than 50 species, roughly six miles of forest will surround the sanctuary and protect the birds from nearby urban developments. Additionally, the Bird Airport will include a wetland park and bird sanctuary, incorporating various water habitats such as an island lake, a reed zone, and mudflats. The eco-friendly and innovative project will incorporate green infrastructures, including constructed wetlands, parklands, and an urban forest. To ensure eco-friendly regimens, the design will use renewable energy in the Bird Airport to move recycled waste water and harvested rain water through the wetlands.


Bird’s-eye view of the proposed “Bird Airport” in Tianjin, China.

Visitors and locals will also be able to enjoy McGregor Coxall’s bird sanctuary by taking advantage of the design’s wetland trails, lake loop walk, cycle circuit, and forest walk. In total, there will be 4.5 miles of recreational nature trails to appreciate. Plus, a high-tech visitor education and research center will help accommodate the high influx of visitations per year. The center will give visitors access to cameras in 14 bird hides, allowing them to get an up-close view of bird life while not intruding on the animals. There will even be an observation walkway with observation pods, offering sightseers a chance to watch the birds as they take to the air.


Visitors and locals will be able to enjoy the high-tech education and research center.

To complete this upcoming project, the McGregor Coxall firm relies on the 3D modeling and site design tools within Vectorworks Landmark software, which offers tools geared toward streamlining landscape-specific design and BIM workflows. In reference to Landmark, McGregor says, “the software we use has to be intelligent in terms of our carbon footprint modeling. With intelligent BIM, smart symbols, and coordinated worksheets, Landmark gives us the ability to make this happen.”

Thanks to McGregor and his firm, not only will there be an innovative Bird Airport providing a safe environment for endangered birds, but also a popular attraction will be established where visitors can observe a range of bird species in a natural habitat, allowing them to truly connect with nature.

If this innovative project grabbed your attention, read our case study for an in-depth profile on McGregor Coxall and learn more about their work and design philosophy.