Regenerative Building I

November 24, 2020

Recently, Odeh Engineers collaborated with a team of students and faculty from the Yale Regenerative Building Lab to design a self-sustaining mass timber structure on Horse Island, a remote island off the coast of Connecticut. The rocky, 17-acre island is part of the Thimble Island archipelago and hosts a delicate ecological environment.

The students presented the Odeh Engineers team with a set of architectural drawings to illustrate their concept—a 750 sf single-story wood structure with a green roof, solar panels, and barnacle-like skylights. The entire structure was designed to rely solely on itself to function. Even towards the end of the building’s lifespan, the components could be taken apart and the materials reused, leaving hardly a trace on the site to reveal what once was. Every aspect of the design, construction, use and ultimate removal of the structure was carefully considered by the students using regenerative building principles.

Throughout last summer, the Odeh Engineers team worked with the students and their faculty to design the primary wood structure of the building and to detail the wood connections. Reused glued laminated beams and cross laminated timber (CLT) floor panels make up the floor structure, while CLT wall panels and Sassafras wood columns support the roof structure above. Harvested directly from the island, the Sassafras columns touch down gently on the site with custom connections designed for minimal impact.

The project was part of a Regenerative Building seminar taught by Alan Organschi, principal and partner at Gray Organschi Architecture. The Yale student class took the design from concept through to construction, spending months on the island building the structure which will soon become home to the new coastal teaching and research station for the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History.

This month's blog post written by Lydia Moog, structural engineer at Odeh who has also served as RISD Architecture lecturer.

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