HA(BAT)AT CORRIDOR is a project created for DESIGN WORKSHOP STUDIO 1, a University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Fall 2015 course taught by Amita Sinha. This was a group project with Atyeh Ashtari and Kristy Raasch.
Danville saw some of its greatest growth while exploiting shale deposits in the surrounding region for valuable coal. Miners extracted coal either at the surface, via strip mining, or created shafts which allowed them to go underground and extract deeper deposits. Our proposal for the HA(BAT)AT Corridor utilizes abandoned mines along the Vermilion River to render a landscape which encourages bat population growth as well as human recreation. Underground mines are reimagined as bat roosting zones and historically strip mined landscapes are returned to native prairie.
A riparian bike trail allows Danville residents and visitors alike to ride alongside the Vermilion between downtown, existing city parks as well as Kickapoo State Park. The trail additionally connects to the existing Kickapoo Rail Trail which extends west into Urbana. An auxiliary immersion trail offers users of the corridor an opportunity to explore the prairie in contrast to the riparian forest scenery offered along the rest of the greenway trail. One of the prairie landscapes, which can be explored along the immersion trail, exhibits a planting pattern mimicking the surface configuration of a strip mined landscape. Twisting and turning rows of prairie plants act as a labyrinth which can be explored off the main trail or viewed from a distance on the path. At dusk during summer months, visitors to the immersion trail have the opportunity to view bats hunt above the prairie landscapes. By funneling recreational tourists directly into downtown, HA(BAT)AT additionally acts as an economic driver, providing stimulus to the Danville local economy.
HA(BAT)AT supports the unique needs of endangered bats throughout the year. During winter months, gated underground mines provide protected hibernation environments. In summer, nearby bat boxes keep mother bats and their pups safe and close to feeding sites. Up to one hundred bats can make their home in just one of these bat boxes. Along the trail, markers indicate where HA(BAT)AT mines are present 45 to 85 feet below the surface, HA(BAT)AT mine entrances are purposely protected from human disturbance. To accommodate human curiosity, cameras will be placed in some of the caves to allow visitors to view the bats at a safe distance in the nearby Nature Center, which the team of architects we collaborated with incorporated into one of their building designs along Main Street. The educational exhibits in the Nature Center serve to inform visitors about bat life cycles and the benefits they provide to the agricultural landscape of Vermilion County, where Danville is located.
By following the riparian boardwalk trail to the east, visitors end up in our Riverfront Park, which houses the Nature Center and connects to our other downtown interventions. North of the riparian corridor, the trail that follows an abandoned rail line is a more direct route into downtown, and meets up with Vermilion Street. From here, the rail trail spurs off in two directions. A person here chooses to go north to explore other existing public space in Danville, or follow Vermilion Street south along our proposed Green Line.
Read more about our project by viewing our booklets.