School of Architecture Partners with University of Puerto Rico

Solar Oasis plans on whiteboard.

From June 21 to June 23 the School of Architecture and the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez will host the 2018 RISE Convergence Workshop: Projects, Priorities, and Partners Informing an Action-based Research Network.

Located in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico the workshop was organized in part by University of Minnesota Assistant Professor Jacob Mans and Adjunct Professor Alex Heid and will bring together collaborators from the National Institute for Island Energy and Sustainability, over 25 national academic institutions, 30 local organizational leaders, and over a hundred local island residents and stakeholders. “Through the workshop we want to identify problems, turn them into actionable items, and develop a network to address them. We don’t just want these to be academic projects, but ones with physical and deployable solutions,” explained Mans.  

The Convergence workshop is an extension of the School of Architecture’s spring 2018 Catalyst workshop, which invited partners from Puerto Rico to Minnesota in early March to initiate conversations about a long-term collaborative project. These conversations and subsequent partnerships are focused on helping rebuild after the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria in 2017. “This spring we ran a speculative research studio with students called the Minnesota Decentralized Design Lab 2018: toward a relational practice for coastal resilience. The purpose of the studio was to identify projects and partners in Puerto Rico. From that we came out with a set of research agendas and potential projects, one of which was the Solar Oasis,” said Mans.

Solar Oasis prototype

Solar Oasis prototype

Based in part off of designs created by Arizona State University, the Solar Oasis is a small building that can be sent to Puerto Rico in one crate and easily built from its own shipping container and local materials.

Once built, the pop-up provides basic charging capacity for a small community’s phones, computers, and other equipment. It also acts as a community gathering point. Mans and his team have refined the design for the Solar Oasis and are building prototypes this summer to ship to Puerto Rico for testing.

“The Solar Oasis is an example of the kind of projects we want to continue to identify during the RISE Convergence Workshop. We want to find research and projects that can be realized in a short, one to two-year timescale and that have a direct, tangible outcome,” said Mans.

Learn more about the 2018 RISE Convergence Workshop: Projects, Priorities, and Partners Informing an Action-based Research Network.

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