On Thursday, May 19, the Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia) is dedicating its monthly Third Thursday event to sustainable living. During Mia’s Third Thursday: Art of Sustainability, visitors can make and take home a bamboo bee house modeled after the ones on the museum’s roof; create an eco-friendly household cleaner; learn about reducing waste from the team at AIGA Minnesota Sustainable Design; and of course discover sustainable art in the collection during mini gallery tours.
Everyone, however, will be talking about Alchemy Architects’ new project, lightHouse, which will make its debut. Designed by the architecture firm, which is led by weeHouse founder Geoffrey Warner, lightHouse is a shipping container transformed into a one-room living space. Warner sees it as an ecotourism travel pod. In an article on the Mia website, lightHouse is described as “a new kind of urban hotel and the next evolution of sustainable living.” Warner goes on to explain that lightHouse fulfills the firm’s desire to “do something between a tent and a house that wasn’t a travel trailer.”
Another use for lightHouse? The structure could function as an accessory dwelling unit or ADU. lightHouse has a door and windows, insulation, and solar panels, in-floor heating and filtered wastewater systems so it can exist off the grid. “By inserting a room like this into the urban fabric, places both celebrated and ignored, you can start to talk about living in the city as an interaction with the urban environment,” Warner said in the Mia article.
The 300-square-foot lightHouse has run into some interference as a potential ADU: Minneapolis and St. Paul regulations insist that any unit with sleeping quarters must have a foundation and sewer/water connections. The intrepid Warner is currently meeting with city officials to discuss how lightHouse could fulfill pressing needs for ADUs that contribute to greater density and sustainability in the Twin Cities—and address the shortage of affordable housing.
Since Warner and his firm debuted the weeHouse in 2003, the modular prefabricated housing system, which optimizes many elements of the traditional design-build process, has become a Dwell darling and a hit on the tiny-house circuit. The components of the weeHouse have also been combined and stacked in myriad combinations for clients from Pennsylvania to Marfa, Texas. lightHouse, Warner says, was created as part of his firm’s continued desire to celebrate and create new paradigms for small and efficient living.
Third Thursday: Art of Sustainability
Thursday, May 19, 2016
6 – 9 p.m.
Target Park (weather-permitting)
FREE; refreshments for sale
By Camille LeFevre
Photos courtesy of Mia