Fourteen architecture and landscape architecture students will have a big audience for their first ever design build project this month – approximately 300,000 Minnesota State Fairgoers.
The students have designed and are constructing a four-person, energy efficient cabin as an exhibit for the Eco-Experience section of the fair. The goal is to educate fairgoers about state-of-the-art concepts in energy efficiency in the built environment.
The cabin, also called the Passive House cabin, is suited to a Northern Minnesota climate and can be heated by the energy equivalent of nine light bulbs. It makes use of many “free” passive heat sources such as heat generated by its occupants, waste heat from appliances, passive heat from the earth and heat from the sun.
“Our goal was to research, analyze, design and build a beautiful, low-energy structure that meets the Passive House performance criteria, on a mid-market construction budget,” said Malini Srivastava, adjunct architecture instructor who leads the Design Build Studio. “This design also takes into consideration carbon implications and resource use analysis, as a step toward achieving a sustainable, efficient and affordable goal.”
While the project is an educational exhibit for fairgoers, it also has provided an invaluable long-term, hands-on learning experience for the students. “The students have demonstrated immense creativity and spirit of innovation under very restrictive budget and strict performance goals,” Srivastava said.
It also has allowed students to develop strengths in various roles such as project manager, architect, fundraiser, accountant, interior designer, drafter, contractor, builder, web designer and graphics designer.
The Design Build Studio is the first Passive House to be built and demonstrated at the fair, according to Srivastava. This also is the first time that the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has invited a student group to participate in the Eco-Experience, a major annual event concerning energy education.
After the fair, the structure will either be moved to a permanent location or dismantled and repurposed for other uses.
The Minnesota State Fair is scheduled Aug. 25-Sept. 5.