Solar Mobility Hubs

Transportation infrastructure for Nebraska campuses and communities

  • Type Community Infrastructure
  • Location Multiple
  • Area Varies
  • Status in progress
  • Date 2022
  • Project Partners

    University of Nebraska Campus Planning:
    Emily Deeker, PLA, ASLA, Director, Campus Planning & Environment

    F. John Hay, Extension Educator, Biological Systems Engineering

    Nebraska Innovation Studio:
    Jerry Reif, Assistant Director

    This project is funded in part by a generous grant from Sand Creek Post & Beam, part of Timberlyne.

FACT 26 – Active Project

Bus shelters and bike sheds occupy an awkward position in the design universe – they are neither small buildings nor large site furniture – yet they form an important part of the urban landscape, and in particular, the built environment of the university campus. This project will develop and realize a new prototype for such structures that reenvisions the type for a post carbon future. Taking a climate positive approach to construction and performance, we are developing a modular prototype with components serving bus stops, bike shelters, bike repair, scooter stations, and more. The mobility hubs explicitly feature two emerging elements of sustainable cities: 1. micro-power generation using standard solar p.v. modules and 2. mass timber construction systems. The scalable prototypes use mass timber structures with an active photovoltaic solar module canopy roofs to serve a range of mobility functions and public spaces.

Solar Mobility Hubs will “provide a focal point in the transportation network that seamlessly integrates different modes of transportation, multi-modal supportive infrastructure, and placemaking strategies to create activity centers that maximize first mile – last mile connectivity.” (Urban Design LA) Prompted by student activists, UNL Facilities, Planning & Capital Projects asked FACT to develop prototypes for solar-powered mobility hubs around the UNL campus.

The outcome of the concept design phase is a pair of prototype designs, one comprising a glue-laminated timber framework and the other using cross-laminated timber. Both versions utilize the same PV canopy roof design and are intended to coexist on the same campus as part of a family of options for a highly adaptable transportation system. After initial testing on the university campus, the prototype design and systems approach will be offered to other communities and campuses around the state where small scale multi-modal transportation is essential to a well-connected community.

> This is an active project, check back periodically to see progress

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Comparison of Base Modules: Cross-Laminated Timber and Glulam Versions
Cross-Laminated Timber Version

The Cross-Laminated Timber Version comprises a limited set of structural roof plates optimized for the size of PV module array and for efficient use of standard CLT blanks with minimal waste. Each section of CLT has an oval cutout revealing the underside of the bifacial solar panels. The “donut hole” cutout piece is repurposed as one of the structural columns, or “wallums” for the hub.

While the CLT blanks offer limited size and tiling options, the underside becomes a forest of possibilities for a variety of mobility hub functions.

Cross-Laminated Timber Roof System
Detailed section of the CLT version

Glulam Version

The Glulam Version is based on a pentagonal framework of glulam beams with columns of the same cross-sectional size. The open framework of the roof structure exposes the underside of the bifacial PV panels above.

Glulam Roof System

The shape of the basic glulam module is based on a Type 9 pentagon offering a wide range of tiling options. Modules can be structurally combined to adapt to a wide variety of site configurations and functional requirements.

Large and diverse configurations are possible.

Linear arrangements comprising additive configurations the basic hub module work well for roadside and sidewalk placement. The pentagonal tiling system of the glulam version allows for slight variations in orientation to accommodate site conditions.

Typical Site Plan: CLT Version, Under Construction

FACT built the game board model (this is the second iteration) as a tool to explore numerous configuration options. The metal ground and magnetic post bases allow for quick and easy adjustment. The complete kit of parts includes shared components such as the solar photovoltaic modules and elements unique to the two different structural versions.

Building 1/2 size mock-ups of the 2 mobility hub prototypes

Community infrastructure

Community infrastructure is the framework of physical facilities needed to support and sustain a community of people to live and work including but not limited to childcare facilities, community halls, aged persons facilities, and transportation. These are the physical structures that make public life possible and are part of FACT’s commitment to create the essential components of a well-functioning social environment.

Project Team

FACT Spring 2022 studio:
Pedro Aguerro, Chris Bean, Taylor Brewer, Rin Le, Ben Stirtz, Will Wierda, Andrew Winter

interns and Actual Architecture Co. staff:
Andy Vo, Ethan Boerner

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