Over the past several decades, architecture and landscape architecture have had a pre-occupation with the contextualism of objects within nature. The Duck Blind is born out of a desire for contextual double-readings, wherein architectural form "doubly functions" to exist in its own system while simultaneously within the system of its surrounding landscape, being both object and subject. The duck blind’s exterior, shrouded in camouflage, seeks to hide within its pastoral setting, while the interior attempts to subvert the exterior’s camouflage with apertures and thresholds showcasing its internal high chromatic content. The goal of this intervention is to create an object which expresses an optic tensional relationship to its very context wherein the object oscillates from being one with and one against nature.
Circle Acres / Pastoral Camouflage
The history of the Circle Acres Nature Preserve presents the dilemma of a double identity. Through the middle half of the twentieth century, the site was used as an active landfill for Austin’s waste-stream. More recently, this site has been reprogrammed and replanted as an ecological preserve inviting re-use of the site through recreational means and re-programming, camouflaging its synthetic history in a cladding of pastoral landscape.
This proposal for a pavilion at Circle Acres serves to call attention to this double identity of the park. The Duck Blind as an object seeking a similar tension with the site through form and material construction, engaging in the outward appearance of the pastoral through the processes of camouflage, while its interior attempts to subvert the camouflage with the use of high chromatic synthetic post-consumer materials.
Duck Blind pursues tensional ambiguity between site integration and object distinction, through its form, material choice and constructional makeup. Externally, the Duck Blind was intended to be clad with a reconstituted thatch recovered from the local crop reaping cycles of autumn in Texas as is a common practice in the vernacular construction of hunting huts.
The thatch-work laced over the form of the pavilion is differentiated through coloration and projection, transmitting the chromatic spectra distilled from the site. Collectively, the outward coloration and form confounds the perception of the object within the landscape through the optic strategies involved in the makeup of army camouflage. Such techniques as which causes the confusion of the reading of the outer silhouette of the form against the backdrop of the landscape and the adornment of a nature based Ghillie Suit allow for the incorporation of the form into the natural setting. The outer envelope of the Duck Blind is created through a process of heightfield projection of a camouflage pattern.
Tensional Objectivity / Materiality + Structure
The Duck Blind takes the formal geometry of the egg, that serves the double purpose of resonating as a garden topiary maintained within this controlled preserve, while the highly patterned geometric interior resonates with Peter Carl Faberge’s jeweled eggs. The egg’s geometry is structured utilizing the process of traditional corbeled brick construction. In lieu of the rectilinear modular brick, a figural tessellated brick is substituted to serve the purpose of a highly decorative pattern on the inside while isomorphically serving the leaf-like camouflage on the exterior.
The interlocked tessellation is based around a figuration of a triangle which reaps the benefits of the geodesic traingulation the planar triangulation of the double curved geometry. Each of the structural pieces is double sided, integrally structuring the egg and imparting itself discretely on the composition of the interior and exterior. The bricks effectively mediates between the object’s internal and external identity crisis. Inwardly, each of the figural bricks is covered with a high chromatic camouflage print, accentuating the schism between the interior and exterior, while on the exterior each brick is clad in a panel carrying a densely woven natural fiber. Harvested from palm fiber and colored using natural pigments, the raffia serves to mediate the internal brick with its surrounding environment.
Duck Blind is positioned as being both there and not there; unidentifiably nature and culture. Duck Blind provides a glimpse into the contemporary discursive of architectural meaning: as a foil to landform buildings, LEED plaquards, the inevitable interior-exterior divorce of insulated poché, and the enduring reluctance of ornamentation through Cartesian patterning. Where in a duck building “the architectural systems of space, structure, and program are submerged and distorted by an overall symbolic form”, the figural duck brick defines structural, perceptual, and spatial experience, subverting a naturalized landfill site through figuration.
The location of the Circle Acres site and its community outreach through Ecology Action, lead the team to search for a connection into the local community. The surrounding community visits the site regularly, and has a strong educational component embedded in its mission statement. The design team connected with local children’s museum The Thinkery, who holds a similar outreach mission for Austin’s youth. The design team and the museum collaborated to hold a series of workshops focusing on some of the major design principals for the Duck Blind. The children were challenged with tessellating animal patterns together to make patterns found in nature. Explorations with camouflage in nature and animals abilities to screen themselves into their surroundings. This was a weeklong event series coinciding during the time of the Field Constructs exhibition