EcoMonk Portable Dwelling: a Sustainable Flat Pack Prototype
EcoMonk is a total living environment packed into a small trailer. At the heart of the project is the desire to bring the efficiencies of flattened-package-consumer-assembled (flat pack) manufacturing and delivery, which are currently prevalent in the modular furniture industry, into well conceived housing units. EcoMonk can be deployed and assembled on site by one or two adults using only hand tools. The units will be as environmentally "green" as possible within a tight budget. The design methods explored in the EcoMonk prototype can then be applied to contemporary issues of housing the homeless, disaster housing, and housing for extreme environments.
The intention is to then apply the knowledge and interest gained from the current prototype into the development of a multi-component flat pack system. Next, a prototype eco-housing Community for visiting scholars and PhD candidates is envisioned for Champaign-Urbana and elsewhere. By partnering with manufacturers, we can promote production in a low-cost manufacturing site (e.g. an ailing Midwest town). Finally, the knowledge resulting from the implementation of these proposals will be used to innovate new applications for the construction system in order to ultimately develop the full manufacturing and ecological potential of the idea.
Research Project: 2008-2011
Research Assistants: Max Bemberg, Montana Crady, Mat Strack
Illinois School of Architecture, Champaign, Illinois
A speaker's podium is a psychologically expressive furniture type has been only marginally explored: The act of public speaking is a charged experience – exhilarating for some, nerve-racking for others. Couldn’t a podium be interesting without being flamboyant? A friendly companion, as you become the center of attention?
The result of this design inquiry is the Zag podium. The initial formal inspiration is derived from architect Garrit Reitveld’s 1934 ”Zig Zag Chair.” His chair’s continuous solid elm wood structure is transformed into twin sheets of 20 gauge perforated stainless steel folded and spot welded to an interstitial layer to create a durable but lightweight structure. The result is a podium with a lively approach to geometry, space, and light.
The inherent moiré effect caused by light playing with the overlapping patterns creates a veiled nuanced object: interesting, informal, sometimes immaterial.
Zag is a prototype made possible as a result of a gift from the Class of 1976 Alumni of the School of Architecture at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Pro Bono Project: 2007
Research Assistant: Michael Wetmore
Carnivorous Portable is conceived as a movable outdoor cooking environment. The stored length of 114" expands to 170" to reveal two cooking systems - a charcoal spit roaster, and a propane grill. A deployable PV solar collector connected to a storage battery powers the spit motor, LED lights, and accessory outlets.
Research Project: 2009-10
Design Associate: Ryan Sarros
Architecture Annex One, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Existing dllapidated storage carts were salvaged and transformed into cutting carts for use by undergraduate architecture students. A total of six cards were renovated. They are used by students to increase the working surfaces in their assigned studio space, and feature self-healing cutting surfaces to aid in the construction of models.
Commissioned Project: 2007
Design Associates: Ryan Chester, Jesse Haas
Krannert Art Museum Exhibit: Bill Traylor, William Edmondson, and the Modernist Impulse.
We were asked by the director of the museum to develop a prototype pedestal for this exhibit of self-taught artists. The pedestals were to display the limestone works of William Edmondson: a man of slave decendents with no formal education, who entered the world of sculpture by a divine command.
The pedestals acted as transitions between the context of the museum and the radically different social, cultural, and spiritual context of the sculpture. To contrast with the materiality of the sculpture, thin pine strips were horizontally stacked in an alternating pinwheel configuration to the desired dimensions. The forms were then stained and belt sanded to expose saw marks and other surface features. This intentional rustication acts as a perceptual frame, an acknowledgement that the work has “traveled” a long way.
The pedestals are now used for the display of models in Architecture Annex One. Their rough-honed surfaces complement the simple utilitarian spaces.
Pro Bono Project: 2004
Folding Screen - Kamakura Japanese Restaurant
This folding screen was among the elements designed specifically for the restaurant. The intention was to modify and reinterpret the form of the traditional Shogi screen.
Shoji are typically constructed of rice paper sandwiched between lapped wood joints. The fire code forbid the use of flammable rice paper for the restaurant interior. Meanwhile, the budget did not accommodate the expense of carpentry approximating traditional Ai-gaki cross-lapped connections.
Translucent fiberglass fabric was selected as a substitute for the rice paper. Since the fabric was not certified for flame retardancy, the building inspector field-tested the material before approval. The thin wood strips are glued to the fiberglass, one side vertically, the opposing side horizontally, to create an elusive grid pattern determined by light orientation.
Commissioned Project: 1995