To those who know something of birds, an old barn will say "This would make a good home for a barn owl'. Some muddy lumps under the eaves of a building will declare "House-martins live here'. The little roof garden outside my study window is very popular with birds, and their presence is a delight for me. After finding a morsel to eat, they often bring it here, to get away from cats and dogs. In spring they come to collect the wiry stems of Festuca scaldis -- I think they are better for nest-building than Poa annua or Lolium perenne. In autumn, they come looking for the seeds that are mown off garden lawns. My roof tells the birds "You are welcome'. The birds sing to me in return.
What should a building say to a tree? "We can be friends.' Foliage acts as a decorative foil to buildings. In summer, leaves prevent excessive solar gain. In winter, leaves drop off and allow sunlight to enter. Trees give buildings a sense of belonging.
What should a building say to a river? "I love you.' But how? Visually, they should relate to the water (Figure 9.6). Functionally, they should detain as much rainwater as possible for as long a period as possible. The best way of doing this is with a habitat roof, a grass roof or a roof garden. These features help to prevent floods. Conventional roofs, with drainage pipes, accelerate the rate of discharge into rivers.
What should a new building say to a national park? "I humbly and respectfully beg permission to take my place at your royal and ancient court. I will follow your customs and obey the existing laws and procedures of your establishment. So far from making an intrusion, my constant endeavour will be to melt into the background.'