Conscious, sustainable, inspirational, environmental.
Solar Connections developed as a community farmhouse for Frogtown Farm in Saint Paul. The goal was to create a hub for healthy food systems that fill the gap in production, storage, manufacturing, and distribution. With spokes that reach beyond it’s acreage and the Frogtown Farm neighborhood, its goal is to be a destination for those seeking learning, innovation, reflection, celebration and authentic community. The beginning of this concept came from the phrase, “make hay while the sun shines.” I wanted to take this further by researching facts about the sun. I discovered sun gazing, an act of staring directly at the sun during dusk or dawn while standing barefoot on the ground. This act is one practiced by many monks and is believed to increase melatonin, improve dream recall, improve eyesight and quality of sleep, increase the human pineal gland size, improve endocrine health, boost energy and increase serotonin.
This study was the beginning of Solar Connections’ conceptual design: to create a farmhouse that concentrates on environmental sustainability by utilizing the sun and natural elements for cleansing, connection, and warmth. As the sun creates life that sustains both the human body as well as other plants and animals, the sun also provides a source of energy for all living things, as well as the building. You will experience this throughout the total design.
PROCESS BEHIND SOLAR CONNECTIONS
with inspiration driven by finding a solution to incorporating sunlight and sustainable materials at every level of design; living walls for clean air, sky lights and large windows to physically allow sunlight to enter the space, and recycled, light, and sustainable materials.
Color was born
as I decided to focus the color palette on the greens of the grass, the night blues of the sky, and the purple from the sunset. This created balance in the sun’s literal and conceptual application. Light colored woods and tones would lighten up the space and bring balance to the darker chosen accents.
with a connection to the sun: the user, building, land, and experience would naturally thrive. I was inspired to take this further and apply a true solar connection in every aspect of the design.
— FINAL AND RENDERED IMAGES —
A space to gather
in large groups for meetings and community news. The recycled modular wood blocks offer multi-functional seating. Separating the hallway from the large space are algae panels, guaranteeing clean air quality. NanoTech walls offer a literal connection to the exterior, as the sky lights allow sunlight to enter all day, in order to charge the passive solar heating concrete floors.
For more privacy
a conference room is located on the north end of the building. This room features recycled wool chairs, a 70% recycled granite tabletop, sustainable hemp wallcovering, concrete flooring for passive solar heating, and algae light pendants.
The community classroom
offers a direct connection to the community garden from the classroom by utilizing NanoTech walls. The room also features a wall herb garden, hemp wall covering, recycled wood floors, and artichoke pulp plastic chairs.
The smaller community room
allows for direct connection to the sun. The windows recline out of the wall, allowing for a small meditation space. On the wall hang cyanotypes, and on the ceiling hangs an art installation designed to reflect south sunlight.