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RISD + RI Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Brown Collaborate to Build Sustainable Homes from Shipping Containers
Reed secures $150,000 federal appropriation for The Partnership for Sustainable Development to design an “off the grid” house that is affordable, sustainable and easy to install
PROVIDENCE, RI – March 25, 2011 – The Rhode Island School of Design [RISD], Rhode Island Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship [RI-CIE] at Brown University, and two state -based architects have partnered in a first-time collaboration to design and potentially commercialize an off-the-grid, sustainable and energy-efficient home from shipping containers. A class of RISD students this spring is researching and developing design plans for the sustainable home, and if the idea is judged viable, experts from RI-CIE will assist in finding the best avenues to take the homes to market.
U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) secured $150,000 in federal funding for the RISD and RI-CIE pilot project in the fiscal 2010 appropriations bill. The project aims to enhance opportunities for early-stage small businesses and/or product designers and entrepreneurs working in areas of sustainable development and the emerging “green” economy.
“This collaboration between RISD and Brown has great potential to create jobs and provide affordable, sustainable housing. This partnership will leverage investments by RISD, Brown, and the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation to promote entrepreneurship and business development here in Rhode Island,” said Reed, a member of the Appropriations Committee.
The “Off The Grid,” project grew out of a proposal by Peter Gill Case [Brown ‘83, RISD ‘97 MArch] and Joe Haskett [RISD ’02 MArch], who were selected to lead the pilot effort from more than 50 proposals submitted. The Partnership for Sustainable Development targeted proposals from early-stage small businesses or designers in order to jointly explore innovative concepts and new ventures in the sustainability sector in RI.
“The breadth and creativity demonstrated by these proposals, and the many others that were received, is a strong indication of the vitality and transformative potential of this sector of Rhode Island’s economy,” said RISD Provost Jessie Shefrin.
This spring, students in an advanced interdisciplinary design studio at RISD, called “Re-box," are exploring how to reuse the shipping containers to create practical, affordable, and sustainable building solutions, such as housing. The studio is led by RISD professors Markus Berger and Peter Dean and is comprised of six Interior Architecture, six Industrial Design and four Architecture students.
“This partnership is really exciting”, said Brendan McNally, RI-CIE’s director. “We are taking Peter and Joe’s idea for affordable, sustainable housing, researching and testing it in the RISD advanced studio, and then using the programs and networks at RI-CIE to find the right market and business model to succeed. We believe this collaborative approach – idea-to-lab-to-market – is ideal to capitalize on Rhode Island’s knowledge economy innovations to create jobs and advance sustainable building options.“
Gill Case and Haskett have stayed in Rhode Island since graduating and have several local businesses between them [Box Office, Truthbox, Distill]. The business from the new project has yet to be incorporated. They recently built a new first-of-its-kind energy efficient office building designed out of recycled shipping containers [Box Office is located at 460 Harris Avenue, Providence RI]. For their next idea, they asked: Is it possible to design and construct an “off the grid,” sustainable, and cost-effective residential module that is easily transported and sold around the world? As architects, they consider the project akin to producing the first mass-produced automobiles: build one “chassis” for all models, and then modify the interiors to suit the end-user.
The RISD studio provides an integrated approach to the design process where issues of design, economy and sustainability are considered. The studio introduces advisors in business, marketing, industrial-product development, building-energy, economy and sustainability via RI-CIE and links these topics with research and design development. Gill Case and Haskett are serving as critics throughout the process.
Particular attention is given to the idea of linking sustainable business ideas to a design- research and development. Throughout the course there has been an emphasis on creating and questioning the intrinsic values of sustainability, design and business strategies. Phases will include research, business / marketing strategy and scheme design, including sustainable material development, construction and fabrication methods. The final product will consist of a presentation of the schemes through business and marketing plans, diagrams, energy and sustainability schemes architectural drawings and models.