Researchers at the Department of Ecology and Evolution from the University of Chicago can now enjoy a brand new lab that is both beautiful and energy-efficient. Created by GO Logic, the Warren Woods Ecological Field Station pays homage to the agricultural buildings found nearby in the forests of rural Michigan. Clad in untreated cedar that will turn grey over time, the building is the first Passive House-certified laboratory in North America.
The new sustainable complex consists of a main field station building, three cabins, and a bathhouse. While the main building shelters the research laboratory and educational seminar spaces, the smaller structures provide comfortable overnight accommodation for visitors. Created to minimize the ecological impact, the field station’s design is compact and highly insulated, and makes good use of passive solar gains.
But there’s more: the excess heat from the laboratory equipment gets distributed throughout the building by heat transfer ducts, and is used as a heating source throughout the winter. The building’s skin is made from locally harvested untreated cedar wood, which will gradually turn silver after years of exposure to the elements, and will blend in with the surrounding forest. Plenty of natural light fills the lab’s interiors, where sturdy, polished concrete floors provide thermal mass for regulating the temperature throughout the year.
An additional sleek, tidy element is a glass wall with a fritted white gradient, which separates the seminar space from the laboratory.”This gradient allows a strong visual connection from the lab back to the classroom space at eye level, while providing a visual barrier to the cluttered work surfaces in the laboratory space,” said the architects.
Photos by Trent Bell Photography