Night Aerial View
Plaza Transformation - Deployment of Kinetic Sections
View Toward River at Amphitheater
View of Multi-Functional ETFE Modules & Banquet Loft from Cafe
Site Map - Site Context, Topography, Hydrology of Illinois River in Peoria
Master Plan
Site Sections
Structural Diagrams
Schematic of Passive Kinetic Flood Mitigation Strategy
Kinetic Wall Section - Sliding Truss Frames & Folding Multi-functional ETFE Modules
Static Wall Section - Triangulated Steel Frames & Integrated Multi-functional ETFE Modules
Plan Sequence 1 No Flood
Plan Sequence 2 Minor Flood
Plan Sequence 3 Major Flood
Section Perspective of Primary Assembly Spaces - Outdoor Amphitheater (Left) and Expanded Auditorium (Right)
Concept Inspiration - Wet Straw Wrapper Experiment
Dam Sections Deployed during Floods
Dam Space

Dam Space

Utilizing kinetic techniques, adaptive architecture preserves, expands and enhances public event spaces to address the problem and opportunities of the annual flooding along the Peoria riverfront.

Bachelor of Architecture Thesis Project

Philip Ra, AIA
Mini Chu
AIA Henry Adams Medal
B.Arch Thesis Director’s Award

Utilizing kinetic techniques, this project seeks to address the problem of annual flooding in a way that opportunistically preserves, expands, and enhances public event space. The city of Peoria, Illinois, is bound by the banks of the Illinois River. Its location afforded industry the means to thrive and allows the residents the opportunity to experience the river’s beauty. However, each year the community witnesses its power and destructiveness during annual flood events. As a means of mitigation, the city currently extolls a considerable effort erecting temporary – and not entirely effective – flood barriers. Not only are there great financial costs, but more importantly, these means exclude the public from accessing the programs and spaces that are vital to the community.

In addition to preserving the site more effectively than current efforts, the architectural response intends to expand and enhance public event space by performing with nature in an innovative way. Establishing a network of static nodes across the site, these points are then linked by a series of temporary, kinetic sections – that respond to floodwater similar to effect of a wet straw wrapper – to create a larger inhabitable dam. Diverging from the historic River Station, a new “railroad yard” establishes the source for diverging and converging rails for the kinetic systems. With connections to this network, trains of floating “dock engines” become the architecture’s interface to the site’s hydrology. As the flood water moves these docks higher in elevation, they in turn deploy the kinetic sections. The landscape is also tuned to respond to the flood stages; the amphitheater transforms into an overflow pool before the declared flood stage and the kinetic building sections fully deploy before the flood water reaches the building’s elevation. Along the water’s edge, new riverfront steps will serve as a meter for the public to gauge the water level on a daily and hourly basis as a visual cue of the site’s conditions.

Approaching the problem through the lens of kinetics and integrated design can benefit the goal of creating adaptable spaces and inhabitable dams. Likewise, the emerging potential of universal robotics, proliferation of digital technology, and innovative contemporary kinetic precedents have begun paving the way for revolutions in our participation with architecture. Integrating the means for active adaptations enhance the performance of the architecture and the experience of the site’s dynamic conditions. Through this multi-faceted approach, an architecture of linked spaces will reflect the activities of the Peoria Riverfront and mitigate flooding in the pursuit of Dam Space.

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