Interactive architecture in marine environments



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Texas Tech University


Despite the number of aquarium environments designed in the past 50 years, little is known about the interaction of marine mammals and humans. We have concentrated on the technology required to keep these animals alive and ignored the behavioral requirements necessary for their well-adjusted existence. Facility planning relating to the education of the public, initiation of new research, and the protection of marine mammals has been thoroughly researched yet few aquariums have focused on the behavioral interaction between marine mammals and humans. In order to design a facility specifically for marine mammals, principally whales and dolphins, this thesis investigates those issues concerning the behavioral aspects of interaction between marine mammals and humans. Phase one of the research was a review of the literature on the behavior of marine mammals and their interactions with humans as well as a literature review on facilities planning and the management of aquariums designed for the purpose of research and education. Phase two of the research includes an examination of several existing aquariums to determine design criteria relating to behavioral issues, facility planning, and technological issues considered in the design of marine habitats for the housing of whales and dolphins. Site investigations include interviews with animal trainers, facilities maintenance personnel, education staff, and volunteer support staff. The aquariums studied included the National Aquarium in Baltimore and the Vancouver National Aquarium. The behavioral research and site investigations were completed in order to design a facility to house dolphins which encompasses the behavioral interaction criteria found during the research phase of the project.