Dune Ecology Pavilion
Working closely with the University of Texas Marine Science Institute, the studio was asked to design and build a shade structure that would act as a comfortable and engaging gathering space to educate patrons & students on the importance of the surrounding dune scape. Before the schematic design phase, the studio thoroughly researched the site, the structure of the dune systems and the value of the dune systems to the coastal region. Our research revealed the dunes ability to provide a natural buffer zone for high-risk flood areas. The dunes serve as a habitat for many unique species of animals and the unique placement of the dunes allows them to naturally filter the seawater to freshwater.
The project program was specifically to serve middle school students that would visit the site on educational field trips. Like the wetland education center, located on the northern part of the campus, MSI plans to extend and eventually expand their dune ecology education program creating pathways into the artificial dune system they have created on the campus. The structure our studio created extends from an existing bridge that connects the school dormitory building to the classrooms and labs. This bridge is directly adjacent to the constructed dune system. By extending the pathway, this allowed the students physical access to the dunes along with a view overlooking the surrounding topography and nearby beach.
In addition to designing an education pavilion, we wanted to make sure that the design could be expanded upon and over the course of time, therefore the studio also designed a master plan including a trail system extending into the dunes. By doing this, the ultimate end goal would not only be to create a pavilion that acts as a destination point, but as a point of departure into the landscape.
As a group, the studio focused on three key concepts to narrow the options of the design phase based on the Marine Science Institute’s requests:
Comfort : To provide comfort through covered, stepped seating in a peripherally enclosed space. Access - To direct physical access to the berm and into the dunes whil also narrowing the visual scope before fully impeding on the natural surface.
Engagement - To provide direct focus on the subject matter, dune systems, encouraging mental, and eventually, physical interaction.