Congress Ave. Bridge Bat Information Center | Austin, TX | Spring 2014
How can natural forms influence design? This project seeks to answer this question by utilizing the Mexican Free-Tailed Bat as inspiration for the Congress Avenue Bridge Bat Information Center. This building is located immediately adjacent to Austin's famous "Bat Bridge" where this unique species emerges for their nightly flight around the city. The goal was to provide the site with an education and observation facility for tourists and residents alike.
Serving as the biological inspiration for the semester, the Mexican Free-Tail bat skeleton is featured in the drawing set beginning this term. The skeletal structure was explored in different degrees from the joint study to the flight motion study. These drawings were used to inform design decisions throughout the semester.
Using the skeletal drawings, a mapping collage was created through data collection in order to gain knowledge about the species in question. The drawing illustrates range, flight time, habitat, and flight patterns, combined into a cohesive design tool used as a reference throughout the course of the project.
Narrowing the scope of exploration, the data collection moved to the site scale. A photo collage was constructed in order to show the relationships between horizontal and vertical views on the site.
The first occupied design of the semester, the “Observation Platform,” served as an introduction into the design of large scale inhabited spaces. To begin, a series of parti models were created with the forms derived from an abstraction of the shoulder joint drawing from earlier in the semester.
Lighting studies were conducted to explore the daylight effect of the project on the site throughout the year.
The quick project was inspired from both the site features as well as the unique species in the area. The final design featured a long platform shaped by abstracting the bone structure of the “hand joint” in the bat, extending out over the Colorado River, east of Congress Avenue Bridge. Covering this platform were three translucent canopies with their form derived from an abstraction of the shoulder joint, resembling a bat in flight, used to protect users from harsh sunlight during the day.
The final project of the semester was to design a space for users to learn about and observe the unique species. The design process began with a series of quick parti models that exported the various methods in which the project could interact with the ground and overall site.
After multiple iterations, a larger scale model was created in order to illustrate the organization of the project based on the decisions made through the previous models.
Based on the model studies, a view and experience study was conducted in order to understand the various conditions in and around the designed building.
A series of “strip renderings” were created as a preliminary material study, placing swaths of color on the project in various locations to analyze the correlations between them.
Continuing the design analysis and development process, several diagrams were drawn to understand the environmental conditions within the project. These explored shading, wind, water, and circulation throughout the building.
The final result featured a linear project moving the user through the site in order to educate them about the Mexican Free-Tailed Bat. The experience terminates at a viewing platform over the river’s edge. The project took into consideration all climate, view, and transportation aspects, combining them into a cohesive design for the area.