Date of Submission
Bachelor of Architecture
Humans are more disconnected than ever from the natural environment. Architecture and ecology, both providing distinct conceptual frameworks for the city, one for nature and one for culture, these thesis explores the frameworks that call for them to be intersected to further an actionable ecology for the city and its architecture. Interaction with the natural environment is crucial to human well-being and development, but sadly this connection has diminished drastically due to the over-reliance on modern-day advances and technology. This severed relationship attributes to the lack of awareness of pressing environmental issues that are threatening our shared communities. Islands, remote by nature with little or no access to mainland grids, heavily rely on burning fossil fuels to generate 90 – 100% of their energy needs. The environmental consequences of this are not only felt by island residents but by the world beyond. This is true for Tortola, a small Caribbean island within the British Virgin Islands that utilizes 97% of fossil fuels for energy and transportation, at this rapid rate, there will be nothing for future generations and the integrity of the natural environment will be in desire. So why is this a common problem that many small islands face? A lack of environmental education programs or community resources within the territory contributes to this growing issue. Education then becomes the driving tool in this thesis because what we do not understand, we can’t help. An island, rich with natural resources but no knowledge or guidelines on how to properly use them leads to the overreliance on fossil fuel and other non-renewable resources. Poorly conceived designs contribute to the way we view and experience nature to viewing nature as a separate entity from us; this diminishes us as we don’t see this problem as our personal problem. Utilizing Biophilic design elements then becomes a design standard that seeks to reconnect us with nature, instead of seeing both parties as separate entities and by doing so provides all kinds of benefits—behavioral, mental, and physical. To avoid becoming another museum, this thesis proposes a new program that hasn’t been seen in the territory that utilizes ecology to reconcile the local people and this place, which have fallen out of love with each other. By taking a holistic and realistic approach to learning by linking ecological, social, and economic aspects of our daily lives, this thesis details how this connection can be reconciled by designing an Environmental Interpretation and Research Centre through a biophilic lens to strengthen the connection and interpretation between nature and man. With numerous benefits for public and environmental health, this creates a platform of cultural dialogue and learning, and addresses social issues and sustainability with a new profound view of knowledge, skills, values, and attitudes which govern how we interact with the world around us. The aim of this resource building is to make visitors aware of environmental questions and to aid and stimulate the discovery process and the visitor’s intellectual and emotional connection to heritage by means of sustainable practices and creating spaces to promote knowledge and research in the related fields for public use and engagement. This will serve as a sustainable design model using the principles of ecotourism and Biophilic design principles to form a guide for future developments on Tortola and neighboring islands in order to help improve its environments, economies, and culture. Because "in the end, we conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught." (Baba Dioum, Senegalese poet)
Bennett, amber, "[Re]discovering Nature | Ecotourism & Natural Resource Conservation: the ‘potential’ for a sustainable symbiotic relationship" (2021). Bachelor of Architecture Theses - 5th Year. 185.