GULF COAST BESTIARY

coastal species rehabilitation & learning outpost; Mustang Island, TX

Medieval bestiaries compiled fantastic illustrations and curious fables about extraordinary creatures into alphabetical compendiums. As a contemporary and architectural reinterpretation of this medieval format, the Gulf Coast Bestiary is a collection of zoomorphic characters that aim to galvanize a participatory public around regional ecological issues while strategically providing an interface for visitors to understand and engage with the back-of-house scientific activities. While many of the zoological rehabilitation programs are restricted to public access, the surrogate animal "characters" of the bestiary provide image- and activity-based platforms for visitor interaction.

The characters are conceived as three-dimensional Tangrams, where a finite series of elemental geometric blocks are assembled into multiple configurations that solicit animal imagery. The forms are specifically inspired by local endangered fauna, including the bottlenose dolphin, whooping crane, gulf sturgeon, sea turtle, and West Indian manatee. By reconfiguring the same blocks, the cast of characters aims to read as a coherent cast with distinctive characteristics. The play of the blocks in three dimensions as opposed to pure extrusion aims to produce multiple lucid profiles.

Below deck, the characters have concrete "roots" that house correlated programs and comprise the structural support for the building. Various adjacent cutouts in the top deck reveal glimpses of these character extensions and provide peeks into the volunteer mezzanine and zoological labs below. The dimensions of the concrete roots thicken as they descend, sometimes allowing opportunistic crannies in its poché and enclosing the life support infrastructure in its bottommost level.

© CARTOGRAM 2014.