Tidmarsh Living Observatory Portal

Valentina Sumini and John Rao

The Tidmarsh Living Observatory Portal is a research project that focuses on the design and fabrication of a pavilion that will generate an immersive physical telepresence experience of this enchanting natural wetland.

The Tidmarsh site has been restored from a former cranberry farm to natural wetland and, through extensive Responsive Environments research that lasted decades, it has been possible to retrieve several environmental live data thanks to the networked and outdoor installed instrumentation.

The portal will generate a real-time telepresence by recreating visuals and sounds representative of the site, streaming live data as well as past recorded data, allowing also a travel across time. The overall experience, for maximizing its immersion, is tailored for a single user and lasts about three to five minutes. The user will interact by selecting a location of the Tidmarsh map and a specific time.

Architectural design

The architectural design of the pavilion is inspired by the idea of recreating an individual Tidmarsh ecosystem wherever the Portal is going to be located. Therefore, the bio-inspired egg shape enclosure represents the optimal metaphor of a micro-ecosystem within a macro-ecosystem.

The research explored different ways of geometrically describing an egg shape using computational techniques to allow a parametric design flow while considering a user-centered design approach.

Some of the  variables are the overall dimensions of the Portal and the different mathematical approaches to define a spatial egg geometry. The coded Rhino-Grasshopper algorithms allowed us to define a set of possible design solutions that respect some physical  boundary conditions  and optimize the visual experience.