Small Sustainable Spaces: 3 Award-Winning Eastern White Pine Designs

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What does the future of sustainable architecture look like? Chances are, it’ll include a lot of wood – one of the greenest building materials around – whether used in tiny houses that reduce residents’ impact on the environment or even large-scale skyscrapers. The very first Sustainable Versatility Awards in 2012 asked architecture, engineering and design students to envision a small (600-square-foot) free-standing sustainable structure made of Eastern White Pine. Here are the three winning designs (see 2013’s winners, too!)

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In first place (above) is Studio Soleil, imagined as a detached teaching studio and performance space for a piano teacher. Created by Maynard Hayden León of Harvard University Graduate School of Design, this plan uses Eastern White Pine for built-in millwork, including bookshelves lining the main space, and an acoustic baffle system. The exterior features the traditional ‘Shou Sugi Ban’ method of charred wooden siding, which protects against rain, rot and insects for 80 years.

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Benjamin J. Greer of Northeastern University won second place with HOME, a modern sustainable house inspired by the traditional Northeast log cabin. Packing lots of comfort and function into the small footprint, it’s got a slatted wood facade that filters light and provides privacy. The interior is smartly laid out to make the most of the space, and there’s even a second-floor terrace.

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REST AREA by Natalie Petricca of Carleton University is a striking, artistic pavilion offering an intriguing resting spot for hikers on a forest trail. Eastern White Pine stakes surrounding the sculptural benches mimic the trunks of the adjacent trees, and the seating is inclined to encourage gazing up at the branches.

Sustainable Versatility Design Awards Re-Imagine the Use of Eastern White Pine

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A marine biology research center, a forest learning center and an arboretum are among the three winning designs in the 2013 Sustainable Versatility Design Awards, which re-imagine the use of Eastern White Pine in the modern classroom. Each proposal puts this eco-friendly building material to optimal use in campus buildings, in ways that highlight the aesthetic, functional and sustainable qualities of the wood. Sponsored by the Northeastern Lumber Manufacturers Association, the awards are a vivid illustration of how Eastern White Pine will continue to thrive in thoughtfully designed structures of the future.

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Coming in third place is The Arnold Arboretum at Harvard University by Nicholas Guertin of Northeastern University. This proposal offers a warm and welcoming space for hands-on botanical and horticultural education in one of the last and largest pieces of Frederick Law Olmstead’s Emerald Necklace.

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In second place is ‘Finding the Trees in the Woods: Rediscovering the Forest’ by Christopher Telomen of the University of Hawaii. An outdoor learning center serving as a home base for exploring the wilderness, this structure is located in an Eastern White Pine conservation area and takes its inspiration from the natural forms of the trees.

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The first place winner is The Lovells Island Marine Biology Research Center by Ben Greer of Northeastern University. Proposing a new on-site learning center on Lovells Island in Boston’s outer harbor, this project is a 6,593-square-foot facility with two research labs and the capacity to house up to 30 people directly on-location.

Greer came up with his vision in just two weeks, prior to the start of the spring semester. He explains that he wanted to bring the educational experience directly to the source, by providing students with the benefits of on-site learning.

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“I spent a large portion of my childhood in Boston Harbor on my grandfather’s fishing boat, so I am not only captivated by the area, but I am more than familiar with the geography. I wanted to couple Boston’s thriving and enormous educational sector with raw and undeveloped nature of the harbor islands. The design became focused on providing the 250,000 college students in the city with a research center that wasn’t just another lab on campus; it was a scientific retreat away from the chaotic atmosphere of the city and conveniently located atop and around the field of study. This first hand learning allows for students and researchers to focus solely on their field by eliminating the majority of day to day distractions.”

“I am happy with the way the design turned out for being done on such a short schedule. It was great to have the opportunity to present the project to the members of NELMA, and perhaps one day, a project like it could be realized in the harbor.”

Sustainable Versatility Awards Celebrate Eastern White Pine

For the past two year’s student architects have been competing for the Sustainability Versatility Design Award.  The award celebrate innovative design featuring Eastern White Pine.

Last year’s winning entry, STUDIO SOLEIL, was submitted by Harvard University Graduate School of Design student Maynard Hayden León. The 2012 competition design challenge was to design a small (600 square foot) free-standing sustainable structure featuring Eastern White Pine.

The 2013 award asked students to re-imagine the use of Eastern White Pine in the modern classroom.  The award will be presented to the winner at the 2013 Annual Convention in Boston, Ma.

For more information visit the award website.