Emergency Response Studio, by Paul Villinski, is a solar-powered, mobile artist's studio, repurposed from a salvaged FEMA-style trailer. This sustainably re-built, off-the-grid living and work space is designed to enable artists to "embed" in post-disaster settings, and respond and contribute creatively.
Villinski conceived the project in response to the devastation of post-Katrina New Orleans as "a symbol of transformation and possibility for the communities of the Gulf Coast." ERS will be exhibited in Prospect .1 New Orleans, the largest exhibition of international contemporary art ever organized in the United States, which opens throughout the Crescent City 1 November 2008.
The project playfully and purposefully deconstructs the template of the now iconic FEMA trailer. Villinski gutted a 30-foot Gulfstream "Cavalier", removing materials known to off-gas formaldehyde, and rebuilt it with "clean tech" solutions. The studio is entirely powered by a 1.6 kilowatt photo-voltaic solar system featuring an array of nine large solar panels which tilt upward from the trailer's roof to face the sun. Additional power comes from a micro-wind turbine spinning atop a 40-foot high aluminum mast.
Eight large batteries, each weighing as much as an average man, store this power and are seen underfoot through a clear Lucite floor section as one steps into the trailer. A large wall section cranks down to become a deck, a ten-foot, geodesic skylight provides daylight and expansive headroom in the work area, and a thirteen-foot wall section has shed its aluminum siding in favor of clear polycarbonate sheathing.
Symbolically, the structure is expansive, both opening outwardly and inviting the outside in, enabling free exchange between artist and environment in a collaboration of reinvention.
ERS has been reconstructed with sustainable, green materials -- recycled denim insulation, zero-VOC paints, bamboo cabinetry, compact fluorescent lighting, reclaimed wood and floor tiles made from linseed oil -- minimizing the structure's carbon footprint and enhancing quality of life for its inhabitants.
Though designed as an artist's studio, the Emergency Response Studio also serves as a prototype for self-sufficient, solar-powered mobile housing, and explores the application of sustainable materials in the construction of trailers and other forms of temporary housing.
Written by Cristina Hadzi