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outlier designing for the alaskan wilderness

Outlier is a series of structures located 60 miles into the pristine expanse of wilderness know as Denali National Park and Preserve in central Alaska. This project seeks inspiration in these natural surroundings and endeavors to create buildings with minimal environmental impact, that embrace the mission and ethos of the national park service, and that establish a bold architectural aesthetic reminiscent of this beautiful yet unforgiving environment. In doing so, the hope is to embody a careful balance between built structure and the natural world.

Daniel Chittick / Advisor - Sherman Aronson


site

Denali National Park and Preserved is composed of 6 million acres of pristine wilderness ranging from 200 feet in elevation to 20,320 feet, the highest point on the North American continent. The site selected for Outlier is that currently occupied by the Eielson Visitor Center. This point is located at mile 66 along the Denali Park Road. The site looks out across the Thorofare River, the Muldrow Glacier, and up towards the Peak of Mt. McKinley.

Park Photos from 2013 Visit

Mt. Galen Moose Creek Green Dome

Thorofare River

Denali Park Road

Mount Eielson 5,802


29%

16 mph

15 mph 23 %

22% J

F

M

A

M

J

J

A

S

O

N

D

12 mph

66°

64°

61° Average Highs

53°

Site as Picnic Camp 1930s

Site as Picnic Camp 1938

Average Lows

50°

Site as Military retreat 1947å

43°

39°

38°

39° 32°

31°

29° 25° 15°

18°

16°

14°

11°

9° J

F

M

1° A

M

J

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A

S

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N

D

-5°

-8°

-6°

D

Alaska Railway

D

Completed Allowing Visitors Acccess To The Park Mckinley Park Renamed

Denali National Park And Preserve

1.6 Million Acre

Mount Mckinley Park

M

1980

J

J

2000

1971

1939

1917

1923 1921

1916

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DAYLIGHT 5.75 / 19.12

PRECIPITATION 0.3”/3.16”

DARKNESS 18.25/ 4.88

SNOW 0”/13.7” SNOW DEPTH 0”/22”

Park Road

Charles Sheldon

Completed To Wonder Lake

Petitions Congress For Denali Region Preserve

National Park Service

Alaska Highway Completed Easing Travel To The Park

Founded

200

Harry Karstens

Caribou

Appointed First Park Superintendent

Grizzly Bear

1

6

11

16

21

26

31

Moose

41

46

51

56

61

66

W. Lake

80

40

36

Wolf

OUTLIER SITE

60

Polychrome

Dall’s Sheep

100

Toklat

Inhabitants In Denali Region

1950

Teklanika River

Athabaskan

M

Savage River

First Evidence Of Native

1900

1908

500

1850

S

Expanded To 6 Million Acres

Established By Congress

71

76

81

86

91

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program

The Program for Outlier is the result of series of interviews. During the summer of 2013, Denali Park facilities staff, the director of operations for the main visitor center, the head of park research, and a partner from a local firm that has completed work in the park were each interviewed at length. All of this information was synthesized in order to establish the ideal program elements for a structure at mile 66. The result is a multi- use facility servicing the western half of Denali Park. The three main program elements are a wilderness center to orient and initiate park visitors, a research facility with small lab and workspace, and a dormitory style housing structure for park staff and researchers.

Housing / Storage 100

Outlier Hut 100 SF

restrooms 120

S

Research Facility

Labs

2,300 SF S S F

470

storage

280

offices 500

kitchen

Housing

508

bathrooms

3,400 SF S S F

200

common 800

Cafe

Wilderness Center

630

5,650 SF

bedrooms

S

900

Restrooms 650

exhibit

Exhibit 2,000

Kitchen 200

Service 900

Housing / Storage 100

Outlier Hut 100 SF

Housing / Storage 100

Outlier Hut 100 SF

S

S


inspiration

The following are a few projects that both inspired many of the concepts behind Outlier and informed the technical development of the project.

Tåkern Visitor Center

Monte Rosa Hut, SAC

Tåkern Visitor Center

Antarctica 2009 20,000 sf

Zermatt, Switzerland 2009 12,000 sf | 15000 ft altitude

Glänås, Sweden, 2008 8,000 sf

This is the first zero emission polar research station on antarctica. The research center uses a combination of photovoltaics, wind turbines, and passive techniques in order to produce energy year round. The station also uses what is termed a ‘programmable logic controller.’ This computer system constantly monitors 2,000 points of energy production and consumption prioritizing and delivering energy with maximum efficiency. Also the station has the capacity to reuse 100% of its waste water using space based technology. This project showcases successfully implemented sustainable technologies in an extreme polar climate.

Built to replace an existing alpine hut, the Swiss Alpine Club chose to design a highly modern and sustainable structure in the high Alps. Construction at this location involved 3,000 helicopter to trips to deliver precision milled timber, prefabricated glass, and aluminum panels. The stated goal for this structure was complete self sufficiency and it manages well, producing 90% of its own energy. The structure can house up to 120 people and is only accessible by foot or helicopter. While the focus of the ‘hut’ is efficiency and functionality, the structure also has some very warm and pleasant interior spaces. This structure meets both the sustainable criteria, and possesses a certain remote and essential quality that ideally will be replicated in this project.

This visitor center is built on pilings beside a lake in the Tåkern nature preserve in Sweden. The structure sits at the forest edge and appears to ‘touch the earth lightly’ to borrow Glenn Murcutt’s phrase. The crystalline geometry of the structure appears dynamic and fresh yet not out of place in its natural environs. The center also possess a simplicity in program with flexible open spaces compact and efficient service spaces. It maintains a consistent interior connection to the natural environment. The space appears comfortable but not overbearing. The minimal interior finishes and natural wood are particularly appealing, and appear to resonate well with the verdant surroundings.

Transmission Yosemite This is a series of rendered digital laser scans produced by the photographer, Dan Holdsworth. Holdsworth reappropriates terrain data gathered by the USGS from the National Parks to create a series of stark yet familiar landscapes. As with much of Holdsworth’s work, these landscapes articulate an uneasy tension between the natural and built environment and express the potential for beauty therein. This innovative synthesis of digital technology and natural forms serve as a potential source of inspiration for building in Denali.

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mid review

The Mid Review presentation consisted of a comprehensIve site analysis, program studies, form making concepts, site test fits, conceptual floor plans, and potential methods for seasonally expanding and contracting program space.

Prospect / Refuge

Arrival / Sequence

Enclosure / Porosity

Expansion / Contraction

Orientation / Disorientation

Resonance / Definition

The perception of safety and comfort can be magnified by the vastness of Denali Park. Spaces in which one can survey long distances from shelter tend to resonate with their occupants as pleasing.

These forms will shape the experience of their users. Specific attention must be paid to the experience of the park visitor. As the park experience for many is limited to the park road and visitor centers, the placement of forms and spaces in the sequence of the visitor’s experience, and the way in which they color that experience will dictate the success of these structures.

The form should enclose to the degree that a distinctive sense of identity and place are archieved. However, there should also exist a sense of porosity in which the user of the space remains in constant contact with the natural world and never loses a sense of their place within that broader context. This permeablilty is also crucial in diminishing the interuption to surrounding ecological systems

As the scope of program will shift seasonally, these structures must shift as well. One looks to the metaphor of a seed expanding into a plant and then contracting back to a seed. The size and function of these structure will change with shifting program demands and also the seasonal shifts of the natural environment.

The visitor center and research facility can also be viewed as a points of departure. This is the place at which a user transitions form a single path to and infinite number of paths. These structure should organize this transition but not dictate or limit the experience.

These structures should possess a formal resonance with the surrounding evironment while simultaneously distinguishing themselves from this same environment. While showing a deep sypathy for the natural context, these structures will ideally also express a tension between the natural and built world.

ness Orientation WildernessCenter Orientation Center

Total

Exhibit

5,500 / 1,500 3,000 / 1,000

Approach 1

Café Exhibit

Kitchen

1,0003,000 / 500/ 1,000500

Café

Research Facility Research Facility

Toilet

1,000 /500 500

Kitchen Staff

Toilet

Staff

Total

Total Lab

Office

500

500

500

2560 / 1040

2560 1440 / 1040 / 720

640 / 320 1440 /320 720

500

Approach 2

Lab

Housing

Storage

Housing

Office Toilet

Storage

Toilet

Total

Bedroom Total

Common Bedroom Kitchen

Common Rest-

Kitchen

Rest-

640 / 160 320

320

160

2,000 / 760

880 2,000 / 440 / 760

640 / 320 880 / 440 320

640 / 320 160

320

160

Approach 3


Expansion Studies

Base

Deck

Canopy

Preferred Approach SIte Plan

Office

Sto.

Lab

Lab

T

Office

BEDROOMS T

T

COMMON KITCHEN

Kitchen

T Staff T

Exhibit

Café

Café Exhibit

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tech review structure

systems

assembly


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final


WILDERNESS CENTER AND TERRACES

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plans

Research Lab

MECH

MECH MECH

MECH

STORAGE

CAFE

EXHIBIT

MAP ROOM

LAB SPACE

WORK SPACE COMMON

SEASONAL WORK / STAGING AREA

SEASONAL EXHIBIT / LECTURE AREA

Wilderness Center

KITCHEN

Research Lab

Housing


seasonal use

Most activity in the park is dictated by a huge seasonal shift. The use of Outlier is no different. During the summer months, buildings open and program space spills out onto the surrounding terraces. Conversely, during the winter months, The structures seals up and usage is extremely limited. In this way the use of the facility reflects natural cycles.

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Wilderness Center - April 15 - September 15

Park open to public May 1 - Sept 1

Research Lab - April 1 - October 1*

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A

*Uses Entirely Renewable energy - Open beyond with non- renewable backup

Housing- March 15 - October 15*

*Uses Entirely Renewable energy - Open beyond with non- renewable backup

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Summer

Winter south trailhead

outdoor Cafe

north trailhead

Snowmobile Parking bus / park staff parking

covered observation area

covered drop off / waiting area expanded work space

partially open depending on demand

seasonal work / staging area

expansion of living space / kitchen

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Ramp to Research Lab and Housing


WIlderness Center Map Room and Main Hall

Housing Common Space

WILDERNESS ResearchCENTER Lab Collaborative AND TERRACES Space

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engaging the wilderness

The National Park Service is perennially looking for ways to encourage visitors to venture out into the wilderness without compromising the purity of this environment. The park service is hesitant to set permanent trails as these will create human thoroughfares and disrupt the surrounding ecology. This project proposes a transient network of trails and deployable hut structures to guide visitors as they enter the back country. Each season these paths can shift allowing former paths time to return to their natural state

Outlier Huts are designed to be air-dropped into place. Due to the pervasiveness of small aircraft in Alaska and the incredibly rugged terrain, these 100 s.f. structures are intended to be air lowered via helicopter as a refuge in some of the most inhospitable regions of the park. As they touch down they expand and deploy themselves on the ground. These structures are composed of a double layer of pvc fabric with pv film cells imbedded in a south facing side. This will provide sufficient power to provide illumination during the nightime, creating beacons in the wilderness.

’-0

10 ” 10 ’-0

7’-0”

Closed

Transition

Open


Heli drop

LED Illuminated Hash Marker

PV Film

Ground Plane Anchor Key Deployable Anchor

Trail Markers are designed to be stacked and easily transportable. A Ranger could stake out a new trail with markers every mile in a single trip. They are comprise fo a thin sheet of steel and have a keyed anchoring device so that they remain fixed in place until needed to set the next trail. They also have a small PV cell and illuminated hash marker to help guide wayward hikers in the evenings

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Path to Terraces


Research Lab and Housing In the Winter

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Chittick