Visualizing the Invisible

How do you know that something is happening if you cannot see or feel it? Many things that impact our lives and environment are relatively invisible. Changes that occur are often difficult to notice as they are subtle. Only when changes begin to disrupt our way of life do we begin to take action. This thesis explores the concept of visualizing the invisible, by exposing issues that we cannot see, through architectural means. As a result of this exposure, how can architecture and landscape design motivate action towards climate change? Climate change is typically portrayed through data, statistics and unrelatable imagery that creates difficulty in understanding its proximity. This thesis seeks to explore ways in which design can establish immediacy.

While in the urban environment, people are continuously surrounded by human developed interventions on the natural environment that produce harmful impacts. Often people seek to escape these spaces through visiting “untouched” environments. This thesis uses the typology of the national park, a relatively untouched landscape, in order to present the human impacts that are occurring. Instilling the fact that all environments are interconnected. Each has an impact on another, whether it be directly or indirectly. Indiana Dunes National Park consists of unique conditions to that of any other national park. The park is among the most diverse in landscape typologies and habitats but is also surrounded by industrial environments of steel mills and power plants. While people are able to “escape” during most of their time within the park, the emissions and pollution being released nearby is inconspicuously having an effect on the environment within the park, lake, and nearby communities.

This thesis proposes the design of an immersive park within the national park, bringing attention towards invisible environmental impacts. The park will have the purpose of informing, motivating, and empowering visitors through its design.