At Camp Prairie Schooner's new Aquatic Center in KCMO, our goal was to create a naturalistic climbing experience that would excite and challenge campers for years to come! The main attraction, an enormous, themed concrete boulder features a carved climb-able face which users can swim up to (one at a time) and free climb, without the use of ropes or harnesses. Once to the top of the wall (or as far up as they can get) users fall or jump back into the water, ensuring a safe yet challenging climbing experience. The camp's new Aquatic Center, which also features a naturalistic splash pad and several other themed concrete edge boulders is open to campers as of Summer 2019!
To do your part for the planet this Earth Day check out your local government and parks and recreation department for volunteer clean-up opportunities, or check out the earth day website to find out more what Earth Day means and how you can help with even small efforts. If you are local to the Kansas City area like us, check out Friends of the Kaw or Bridging the Gap for volunteer or donation opportunities!
Reminiscent of a nautilus shell, this pool design features an underwater pebble pathway which spirals down into the circular swimming area. This pebble beach path (shown on the left below) is bordered by a mossy sandstone rock bubbler and a trio of "floating" stepping boulders.
This circular, 25,000 gallon Natural Swimming Pool is approximately 30ft overall with a 25ft x 20ft swimming area. Constructed of dry-stacked sandstone, this pool features a built-in biological filtration system, which keeps the water clean and clear without chemicals. This nautilus inspired pool can be built in 3-4 weeks for $70-75,000!
Ever stroll around a zoo and wonder who makes all this stuff?: The answer is we do! The goal of zoo exhibit design is to immerse visitors in the animal's natural habitat while still catering to the needs of the animal and its keeper. Each animal has special requirements, which can include major exhibit features like caves, streams or pools, dens, hollow logs, jungle gyms, etc., as well as things like special lighting or temperature regulators. For example, these small reptile enclosures, which we created for geckos at the Micke Grove Zoo, include integrated lighting and hidden keeper access doors. These museum-quality, hand-sculpted enclosures were themed (masterfully carved and painted by Allan) to look just like the geckos' natural habitat! Below is a glimpse into our process from concept drawing to finished product:
Top Left: Initial enclosure concept rendering Bottom Left: During construction Right: Finished gecko enclosure
Left: Enclosure in progress Right: Finished gecko enclosure
Designed and built by Total Habitat, this 12 foot deep, spring-fed Natural Swimming Pool/Pond is nestled in the heart of the rolling Tennessee hills. Completed this summer (2017), this swimming hole offers unlimited fun with an 18 foot waterslide, gentle-entry pebble beach, and waterfall with hidden grotto!
2012-2013 Total Habitat Natural Swimming Pond at meditation & healing retreat in Georgia! The Elohee Center, in the mountains of North Georgia, provides a beautiful retreat space in Nature to allow for self-exploration, individual growth, and mind/body healing. Like the retreat's Fire Ring, lush forest, and spectacular mountaintop views, the Swimming Pond has become an integral part of the natural healing experience. Click here for more information about the Elohee Center as well as upcoming programs and retreats.
This gorgeous new Natural Swimming Pond, tucked deep in the forest near Seattle, Washington, is both a peaceful retreat for its owners and a never-ending source of fun for their Australian Shepherd, Indie! Constructed of big, beautiful, locally-sourced boulders, this NSP also features a weather-proof TimberTech and cedar jumping pier. As always, this NSP is completely chlorine (and salt) free, cleaned instead with our powerful built-in biological filtration system (tucked behind the boulder walls and under the river rock floor)!
Indie, surveying his new chemical-free Natural Swimming Pond!
We are proud to announce that this week Total Habitat was awarded a Building Congress and Exchange Craftsmanship Award for our Exhibit work at the Baltimore Zoo! Using shotcrete (a type of concrete that is sprayed onto an armature then artistically carved/stamped and colored) we created a stream for the zoo's Marsh Aviary habitat.
Photo credit & info about other award winners:
In Progress: Mick & Dale finalizing the overall stream shape in preparation for shotcrete.
In Progress: Structure coat underway (structural concrete layer over rebar w/ shape roughed out). Next, will be "theme" coat (top layer of concrete that will be artistically carved/stamped).
In Progress: Stamped mud texture (left). Stream with "theme" coat applied and carving underway (right photo).
Check out these stunning pics of the animal habitats we created for the brand new Bugarium at the ABQ Biopark!
At the Bugarium, which is home to such spectacular specimens as tarantulas, centipedes, scorpions, giant katydids, naked mole rats, and giant roaches, we were tasked with the challenge of creating several distinct exhibits within one large open area. We created these exhibit areas-- Desert, Tropics (including a living wall, waterfall, and indoor pond), Ant Island w/ "Highway" Vine, and Nocturnal Forest/Riverbank-- to accommodate our "bug" residents and immerse visitors in their natural environments. Here are photos from the exhibit opening:
In the Tropical Area, we created a living wall that features a carved "rock" waterfall with boulder-edged pond below. Check out our project photo gallery for in-progress pics!
The Desert Area was designed to house desert floor dwellers like tarantulas, scorpions and Honeypot Ants. In order to display these specimens in an accessible way, we brought the desert floor up to the visitor and themed the display like an eroded desert ridge.
Entrance to the Nocturnal Forest
Nocturnal Forest in daylight (90% completed)...
Here in the Nocturnal Forest, we created an immersive experience for visitors, complete with a carved concrete buttressed tree and fallen log (which house the "bugs"), a leafy canopy above, and eery sounds of the forest at night which echo around the dimly lit space.
Nocturnal Riverbank in daylight (90% completed)...
In the second Nocturnal room, we created an eroded riverbank, complete with themed mud and tree roots, in order to bring our underground and rainforest floor specimens up to eye level. Here, visitors move through semi-darkness toward backlit displays cut into the side of the riverbank, while listening to the (sometimes eery) sounds of the rainforest at night.
Water-bug Area: Here we created space for the water-bug aquariums with visitor seating in between. We themed these bench seats like a muddy riverbank with roots poking through and a cracked mud texture on top.
Ant Island: On this octagonal island, we erected three 15ft trees (dead trees but with a silk leaves) surrounded by a mote, to house the Leaf Cutter Ants. We also created an artificial vine (kept moist for their comfort) that runs from the trees on this island to their home base on the other side of the room, allowing the ants to collect leaves from this island to bring back to the rest of the colony. So cool!
A close-up of the Leaf Cutter Ant "Highway" vine
Finally, using much of the same processes as our Natural Swimming Pool/Ponds, we created a pond for catfish and dragonflies at the entrance to the Bugarium.
Here is an underwater view of the pond (to the left you can see one of our built-in hiding places for future catfish) -- as always, crystal-clear water with no chemicals!
Our Exhibit Design & Build team is busy working in Albuquerque, NM on a brand new bug exhibit!
Sophie with Ralph, checking out the specimens we are designing for-- yes, those are giant roaches in the background!
Matt, Evan, Mick and Dylan meeting about the water bug area - complete with a living wall and pond.
Dylan with one of our exhibit models
Check back with us each month for tips, new project pics, news, and more, here on our Total Blog!