Painting Ecological Process

Nicky Bloom, Xinyu Shen

Arid climate and expanding student populations demand that Painted Dog Research Trust increase its self-suf ciency by reusing waste water. This design also creates moments of interaction with seasonal change and ecological process. Painting Ecological Process activates the 34-acre site as a large-scale outdoor classroom and research station to further the Trust’s mission to educate people and conserve habitat and animals. Large spatial gestures increase the site’s legibility for visitors while creating opportunities to appreciate changes in season, water levels, and animal life.

The design utilizes sloping topography and seasonally varied hydrological conditions of the site to harvest, treat, reuse, and ultimately sink rain and
treated waste water back into the system. In-ground rain collectors water food and building materials gardens near the campus core. A living machine harnesses, treats, and loops black water back to residences to flush toilets. Constructed wetlands treat grey water for site irrigation. Habitat swales slow and capture runoff during the wet season and provide precious water storage and habitat pockets during the dry season. Steeper slopes serve as habitat research areas to test land management practices as well as attract painted dogs, kudu, and other native animal species. Program is organized around water as an educational tool, and towers, decks, and tree houses carve nooks where ecological process becomes legible to students.