Interactive architecture in marine environments



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Texas Tech University


In marine parks or aquatic zoos this approach, especially for larger animals, has received less attention. In small displays and tanks, the life of the coral reef has been recreated carefully in order to maintain a more natural balance among the reef inhabitants. Unfortunately the careful attention paid to these recreations has focused mainly on keeping these animals alive in a closed environment. The necessity of maintaining stringent controls over artificially created approximations to reality has informed designers and marine biologists of the importance of more natural settings. Although much attention has been paid to these small displays and meticulous effort has been undertaken in order to maintain them, the environments and display tanks for larger aquatic life still closely resemble the jail-like cages that once housed their land inhabiting counterparts. Many examples of the lack of concern for larger animals can be seen as early as the nineteenth century.

In an effort to correct this oversight, this thesis will attempt to show the behavioral patterns and natural environment requirements of one such aquatic animal. Orcinus orca, better known as the killer whale, is a popular attraction at many marine parks and is the largest member of the dolphin family. Killer whales are typically displayed in large tanks that very closely resemble large swimming pools. These aquatic mammals are viewed through large acrylic windows placed just below the upper water level of the tank. Almost no effort has been made to show these creatures in their natural environment or to educate viewers on the importance of a healthy and biologically diverse marine environment.