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Solar-enabled Mobile Kiosk

June 24, 2013

Challenge: create a kiosk that is mobile, transported by a bike, made of steel and solar panels, has LED lighting and is used to charge laptops and cell phones. This was the challenge accepted by 14 architecture students and seven building construction students in the Integrated Project Delivery course this spring.

When UF’s Office of Sustainability approached the School of Architecture to revamp and redefine their mobile outreach program, Charlie Hailey, architecture associate professor, and Ravi Srinivasan, building construction assistant professor, decided to team up and collaborate on the project as part of the Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) interdisciplinary course curriculum. The project was to design, create and build a mobile kiosk.

The purpose of the mobile kiosk is to allow the Office of Sustainability student interns to transport the kiosk anywhere on campus. The trailer can be pulled behind a bicycle and only needs one student intern to transport around campus. An additional intern can be used to help set up the kiosk. “This system is faster and more convenient allowing the interns to have more time to extend their knowledge to those not familiar with sustainable practices,” says Amanda Culp, ARCH 2013. “We are also hoping this new kiosk will become a recognizable icon on campus that brings more people to the activities and information the Office of Sustainability offers at UF.”

The Office of Sustainability provides a mobile outreach program to share knowledge to the UF campus. The goal of the program and the mobile kiosk is to promote sustainability while informing faculty, students and staff of the best sustainable practices.

The project was assigned to the students in the beginning of the spring semester. Professor Hailey’s Design 8 students were given the task of research, design and execution. Professor Srinivasan’s students provided the sustainability aspect of materiality and the calculations of the “emergy,” i.e., all of the energy that has gone into the making of individual components. Both BCN and SoA students met with members of the Office of Sustainability and student interns to learn their goals for the project.

Hailey says the students came up with a provocative alternative that is both pragmatic and innovative.

The design aspect of the project took from the beginning of the semester until Spring Break. The budget was then generated for the Office of Sustainability to approve and start the ordering process. Many items were purchased locally such as the polycarbonate roofing which was obtained from Reuser, a local building supply company that specializes in recycling building materials from local projects.

Culp says that sustainability was a main focus in the building process and products used. “There are many sustainable themes in the kiosk that may not be obvious to the ‘non-architectural’ eye,” says Culp. “The materials we used have a low impact environmentally when being produced and are highly recyclable when the life span of the kiosk is over.”

The kiosk was constructed with reused materials to minimize its environmental impact and to maximize its usefulness as a learning tool. Hailey says the project affirms sustainable practices while it continues to probe sustainability’s diverse meanings.

The kiosk frame consisted of steel tubing for structure and strength and was assembled and welded together by SoA students. The rib system that forms the vessel is made of thick plywood that was leftover material from replacing desktops in many of the architecture studios.

When it reaches its location, the trailer’s “wings” are raised to create a shaded area and to take in the sun’s energy with two 250 watt solar panels, which power cell-phone charging stations, LED lights, laptops and a flat-screen monitor. Counters also fold down to provide areas for brochures, games and informal conversations. The main counter space is comprised of “ribs”, which were off-cuts from the leftover plywood material. The students utilized 3D modeling software and SoA’s new CNC machine (an automated milling machine) to make the “ribs.” The solar panels, inverter, battery and LED lights were donated by a local firm, Sun Power Production Management Inc.

Once the project was completed, the students, Professor Hailey, Professor Srinivasan and the Office of Sustainability “unveiled” the mobile kiosk in the Plaza of the Americas.

“There is no question that this was a unique project for BCN students since, typically, they are used to working at much larger scales, “says Srinivasan. “Besides, this project gave an opportunity for students of SoA and BCN to work together on a common goal.”

“My favorite part of the project was finally having the chance to take a design and complete it from start to finish; starting with research and design development all the way to completing the kiosk and turning it over to the Office of Sustainability,” says Culp.

Kevin Curry, ARCH 2013, says he most enjoyed the hands on building of the kiosk. “Rarely do we as architecture students get to build what we create,” Curry says. “This was very rewarding for me and my fellow SoA students.”

“Kudos goes to Professor Hailey for his constant support and encouragement of new ideas; to the students for their endurance through this entire process; UF Office of Sustainability and Sun Power Production Management for their support,” says Srinivasan.

The mobile kiosk will be used on campus starting this fall.