Matthew Passmore and Nathan Lynch of REBAR collaborated with Oikonos Ecosystems Knowledge to design, test, and install ceramic “nest modules” for the Rhinoceros Auklet, a threatened seabird that lives on Año Nuevo Island, which is part of a California State Reserve. Located 45 miles south of San Francisco in San Mateo County, Año Nuevo is a 25-acre island that serves as a critical breeding habitat for seven seabird and four marine mammal species. Ecological dynamics of Año Nuevo have substantially degraded the habitat of the native Rhinoceros Auklet, a seabird that burrows into the soil to build their nests. After prototyping and testing the ceramic modules (each an irregular oblong shape), the artists, scientists, and students from California College of the Arts successfully transported and installed 87 modules on the island. In the first season after installation, 90% of the modules contained a nest built by Rhinoceros Auklets—exceeding the project collaborators’ expectations.
Founded in 2004, REBAR is an interdisciplinary art and design studio based in San Francisco. Its work encompasses visual and conceptual public art, landscape design, urban intervention, and temporary performance installations. Oikonos Ecosystem Knowledge works locally and internationally to increase ecosystem knowledge through science, art, technology, education and applied conservation. It currently is managing habitat restoration projects in California, Antarctica, New Zealand, Chile, and Hawaii
Matthew Passmore reflected that this project provided its partners with a rare opportunity to create and share a model for producing successful conservation solutions through multidisciplinary collaborations among artists, designers, scientists, and resource managers.