These Unique Roof Tiles Double as Bird Houses

Inspired by a Dutch design firm, this Turkish pottery house is bringing back an Ottoman tradition of building bird shelters.

Bird houses for migratory birds


With pottery manufacturing in Turkey stretching back some 10,000 years, Turkish pottery house Hitit Terra’s products are the continuation of a rich artisanal legacy. Founded in 1940, the manufacturer based in Corum, in the Black Sea region of Turkey, produces everything from baking trays and pots to bricks, all made from traditional red clay. But the boutique earthenware manufacturer decided to reach out to our feathered friends after coming across a social media post from Dutch design firm Klass Kuiken

In collaboration with the Netherlands’ Vogelbescherming bird conservation society, this Dutch firm created a stylish roof tile that also serves as a bird shelter. The tile is meant to help conserve local bird populations by providing them with a safe nesting place and rest stop during migrations.

According to conservation nonprofit Bird Life International, millions of migratory birds cross over Turkey each year. Roof tiles that double as bird shelters can serve as a critical stopping point to help birds during their journeys, preserving the continued existence of some 400 species of birds that pass through the country annually. The presence of these roof tiles could make a significant impact on both Turkey’s local bird population and its feathered guests.

Hitit Terra’s managing partners, Ali Arslan and Cengiz Başaranhıncal, were impressed by the eco-friendly initiative and believed that the product would resonate with the Turkish public. There was just one problem - its high price point.

“It was sold on the Internet for around $70 each. We thought it was a disadvantage to launch a product related to nature with such a high price,” Arslan told Turkish newspaper Corum Hakimiyet. The pair decided to take matters into their own hands and created a local version of the product that was more affordable. 

Hitit Terra’s bird house tiles sell for between $4 to $7, which “enabled those who wanted to reach this product [to obtain it] from Turkey and Çorum instead of [importing it] from abroad.” By lowering the cost barrier, Arslan hoped that more people in Turkey would embrace the tiles and boost the local bird population.

Although the project was clearly inspired by Klass Kuiken, Arslan said that Turkey has a long history of creating bird habitats as part of the urban environment, and producing the tiles was a continuation of that legacy.

“Especially in many buildings built during the Ottoman period, we see that there are such structures for the eating, drinking and sheltering needs of birds,” he said. “We also wanted to keep the tradition of our ancestors alive and contribute to the animals we share our world with.”

Arslan said the product had resonated well with the Turkish public. “We received very good reactions...congratulations from many places, especially organizations and municipalities, and [praise] on social media,” he said.

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Inspired by a Dutch designer and lovingly crafted using traditional Turkish pottery techniques refined over generations, the story of these unique roof tiles serves as a testament to the positive power of globalization. 

Thanks to the internet, people across the world are more connected than ever before, and that means that designs with a beneficial impact for the planet can become reality much more quickly. Social media brought together the best of modern innovation and tried-and-true craftsmanship, to the delight of bird lovers from the Netherlands to Turkey.

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