DRHGreytop

Project Ouroboros South, Rosemont, Minnesota

College of Architecture & Landscape Architecture, University of Minnesota, 1973

The first Active Solar Autonomous House in the Upper Midwest.

Publications:

Smithsonian
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    Project Ouroboros was designed and constructed over a three-year period by classes of Prof. Holloway's Environmental Design Class freshman pre-architecture students. Each fall at the beginning of the three-quarter sequence, a required camping weekend in the Minnesota wilderness was required as a sensitivity training process. Each student was required to prepare a survival shelter for the weekend using only cardboard and pvc sheeting. Included in the weekend were sessions on yoga meditation, Tai-Chi (shown here), a day of silence, and construction of a group geodesic dome (next).
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    Environmental Design students construct a group geodesic dome for the Saturday night session.
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    Pre-architecture freshman student teams, enrolled in Prof. Holloway's Introduction to Environmental Design Course, competed in the design for an "autonomous" house. Here during the final jury, U/M Regent and pioneer in hybrid seed corn, George Roenhorst, listens to the students present their concepts.
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    Freshman student design teams competed in the design of an autonomous house. Here are some of the solar house models presented at the final jury. The students jury picked the model in the center as the most comprehensive and simple idea. Later, Prof. Holloway, announced that in the following quarter, the students would actually build the design. The design was refined and construction began in the Spring quarter of 1973.
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    The team project selected by the student jury. The simplicity of the trapezoid plan and fast-back profile with an array of solar collectors captured everyones' imagination.
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    Project Ouroboros 1974.
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    Early construction photo of Project Ouroboros showing solar collector roof. Agricultural pole construction was employed.
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    Sod covered roof to the north. A row of clerestory windows allows air to circulate through the house during summer months.
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    Vent windows under the roof drip edges.
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    Vent windows under the roof drip edges.
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    Project Ouroboros west side of house.
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    Photograph: Smithsonian Magazine, Sam Love.
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    Project Ouroboros southwest corner of house.
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    Cherry picker photograph of Ouroboros house used as the cover of Popular Science, December, 1975.
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    Skandinavian sod roofing was studied as a way to reduce heat loss in winter and cool the house in summer, through evapotranspiration. Shown here is a picture of a folkmuseum in Norway, using the traditional sod roof. With so many student of Skandinavian decent, this seemed like a relevant solution.
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    Sod roof on the Ouroboros South house, 1973. Students thought having goats grazing on the roof, would be a good strategy for making solar cheeze.
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    Ouroboros South was located on University of Minnesota Research Facility at Rosemount, MN., about a half hour drive from campus. Car pools were organized and each student was required, in an honor system, to be at the site so many hours per week. Other students, who had construction experience, acted as student construction supervisors, and the house project just sailed along.
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    The north side sod roof captured snow and the build-up gave additional insulation and wind resistance during Minnesota's arctic winter months. The ridge of vent windows cast a shadow on the snow, reducing its melting. A wood stove was used as backup heating when cloud cover reduced solar gain on the collectors.
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    Photograph: Smithsonian Magazine, Sam Love.
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    The Ouroboros house from the north-northeast.
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    Students installing glazing frames over the Thomason solar collector, a system which would eventually prove to have many problems,
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    In the Thomason collectors, a drilled pipe, allowed water to flow down into the valleys of corrugated steel, which absorbed the heat of the metal under glass. Heated water was taken into a tank in the basement, which was surrounded by fist-sized stones. Forced air transferred the heat from the rocks to the living space. This turned out to be inefficient, and as shown here, the water left mineral deposits on the corrugated metal, which reduced collection efficiency.
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    Here, under supervision from John Ilse, a mechanical engineering masters degree candidate, students install a second solar collector array after removing the Thomason system. The Ilse panels were metal pillows with water running internally. The efficiency was greatly improved and was carefully measured by John Ilse.
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    The Ouroboros House south side solar collectors (John Ilse version) and solar greenhouse below.
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    Students discovered that reflected solar energy from the collector array would increase the productivity of a vegetable garden planted in the path of the reflected light.
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    Student Allan Sondak took charge of the electric wind generator system in the project. The governor to control the wind blades from self-destructing during wind storms was one of several he developed in a series of experiments. They all failed but he learned tremendoudly in this experience.
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    Students under Allan Sondak supervision, install a prototype wind generatodr on a salvaged WindCharger tower.
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    Electric energy from the wind generator was stored in this battery array located in the basement of the house. Allan Sondak traveled the Minnesota countryside interviewing old farmers, many of whom still had Wind Charger generators from the 1930s Rural Electrificaton Project, and basically revived a knowledge that had been almost forgotten.
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    A clivus multrum waterless toilet was constructed in the basement and was copies from published drawings from Skandinavia.
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    Interior of the Ouroboros House.
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    Interior of the Ouroboros House.
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    Prof. Holloway introduces another class of freshman students who would take over design development and construction on the Project.
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    Prof. Holloway recieved input from these Friends of Ouroboros, and the project could not have happened without their important contributions.
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    The list of pioneering freshman Environmental Design Students who helped Prof. Holloway initiate and realize Project Ouroboros.
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    Continued: list of pioneering freshman Environmental Design Students who helped Prof. Holloway initiate and realize Project Ouroboros.
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© 2009, Dennis R. Holloway Architect