UVA Students Create Livable Pods as Part of ARCH 1030 Project

It is no surprise that many kinds of collaboration take place all the time at UVA and around Charlottesville. To OpenGrounds, collaboration means bringing people from different disciplines who otherwise would not be working together, to work on creative and innovative projects. Architecture 1030, a foundation class at UVA’s School of Architecture, aims to bring similar types of collaboration to design and architecture students.


The class’s final project, entitled Spring Settlement, tasked students with the design and construction of a provisional personal living pod, seeking to challenge fundamental notion of human habitation through the occupation of Campbell Hall for 24 hours. Approximately 80 students constructed roughly 40 pods, focusing on interactions with existing spatial, formal, and programmatic functions, using recyclable, reusable and repurposed materials.

One three-person group- consisting of Ben DiNapoli (an OpenGrounds intern), Remy Moorhead and Maini Ke, developed Tessa, a transformable, temporary structure that considered principles of adaptability and respect for nature. Its aggregated and tessellate design was born out of an interest in the exciting relationship between polygonal geometries – the triangle, specifically – and the pod’s relationship to the landscape.

The group’s project function was defined by two configurations: open and closed. In the open form, designated for sitting and relaxing, the same wooden planks that compose the frame also rotate on dowels, aggregating to become a covering that fully integrates surface and structure. Tessa’s design is fueled by a passion for sustainability, alongside a desire for the spatial and physical integration of nature.

While the light frame and open-air experience define the pod, its inside consists of a perfectly serene and inhabitable space. Furthermore, the cedar wood that Tessa is formed from is reclaimed, half-rotten, from an old renovation project in the Charlottesville area, a testament to Tessa’s awareness of adaptive reuse, while paying respect to the cedars that grow over the site of Campbell Hall and the surrounding city.


With that, many projects such as Tessa were able to leverage the expertise of their members as well as resources around town to create inhabitable and sustainable pods. While most of these structures will soon be recycled, the collaborative process that went into developing them will likely stay with the participants for long.

OpenGounds invites participants in the Spring Settlement class to continue working- if not on the projects developed in the class, then on other collaborative projects, at the studio in the coming semesters. The beautiful aspect of collaboration stems from the experience that participants gain while working on the project, tending to each other’s needs, and working towards a common outcome that is mutually beneficial to all.

OpenGrounds intern Ben DiNapoli contributed to this article based on his experience in the class.


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