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Sunday, April 09, 2006

News From My Backyard: University of Oregon to Host 12th Annual HOPES Eco-Design Arts Conference

[Note: See full disclosure at bottom of post]

The University of Oregon will be home to the 12th annual student-run Holistic Options for Planet Earth Sustainability (HOPES) Eco-design Arts Conference, April 13th through 16th. Held every April since 1995, the HOPES conference works to promote deeper understanding and broader application of sustainable design principles. Presented annually by the Ecological Design Center, HOPES is the only ecological design conference in the country developed and managed entirely by students. Now in its 12th year, the conference continually brings nationally and internationnaly recognized speakers and panelists to the University of Oregon campus in Eugene for a weekend centered around the cutting-edge of sustainable design.

This year, the conference is centered on the theme Permanence/Impermance and will explore the potential tensions or synergies between these two concepts, often key principles at the core of sustainable design. The HOPES 2006 conference will explore the potential benefits of creating an impermanent built environment that is responsive to a culture where technology, lifestyle & aesthetics rapidly become outdated. Conversely, conference attendees will explore ways to create places with longevity that will be able to meet the needs of untold generations to come.

The 2006 HOPES Conference will open with a keynote presentation by internationally acclaimed architect and structural innovator Shigeru Ban on Thursday afternoon. The 49-year-old Ban is perhaps most famous for his development of paper tube structures, disaster relief works, and refined Modernist aesthetic. His major works include the Japan Pavilion for the Hannover Expo 2000 in Germany; Paper Art Museum and Paper Church in Japan; Paper Tube Arch for MoMA in New York; DIY disaster relief housing in Rwanda and Kobe, Japan; and the recently completed Nomadic Museum, a traveling work constructed almost entirely from mammoth paper columns and shipping containers.

In 2004, Ban received the Grande Medaille d'Or from the Academie d' Architecture and was named an honorary AIA fellow by the American Institute of Architects. He is also recipient of several World Architecture Awards - including the 2002 House of the Year Award (Naked House) and the 2000 Best Building in Europe (Japan Pavilion) [see picture] - and he was named Japan’s Best Young Architect in 1999.

In addition to Shigeru Ban's opening keynote, HOPES also has the honor of presenting keynotes from: Christine Macy and Sarah Bonnemaison, of the research-based design partnership Filum; Permaculture Institute founder Penny Livingston-Stark; and architect and professor Sergio Palleroni, winner of an AIA National Education Award. This year's conference will also include dozens of panel discussions and hands-on workshops, a Green Business Expo, Professional Showcase, 24-Hour Design Charrette, Speakers’ Dinner, and kidsHOPES activities. A complete program of the conference's activities, which run from Thursday April 13th through Sunday, April 16th, more information on HOPES, and online registration for the conference can be found at the website: Questions can be directed to [email].

Below is the text of an article on the conference in this week's Eugene Weekly, written by freelance writer and architect, Michael Cockram, and entitled HOPES Abound:

Eleven years ago a group of idealistic UO students dreamed up the idea of a conference focusing on the impact of design on the environment. And today, one thing that distinguishes HOPES (Holistic Options for Planet Earth Sustainability) from other conferences of its kind is the fact that it is wholly student powered — the nation's only student-run environmental design conference. Besides being a draw to professionals and academics from around the country, the conference throws open its doors to the community, offering a variety of rich educational experiences, from conceptual design to the nuts and bolts.

This year's HOPES conference, from April 13-16, takes a major step forward in garnering internationally acclaimed Japanese architect Shigeru Ban as a keynote speaker. The theme for the conference this year is "permanence/impermanence" — the dynamic issues between structures built to last and those built temporarily. Ban's work dovetails perfectly with this theme.

Unlike most star architects, Ban extends his practice to include volunteer work on high-profile social issues. He is noted for his innovative paper tube structures, from temporary relief housing for the Kobe earthquake and the conflict in Rwanda to the award-winning Japan Pavilion at Expo 2000.

Time magazine credits Ban for redefining permanent and temporary shelter. "Refugee shelter has to be beautiful," Ban says. "Psychologically, refugees are damaged. They have to stay in nice places."

Ban received much acclaim for the Japan Pavilion at the Expo — an enormous vaulting lattice of paper tubes. After the Expo the structure was taken down and shipped to a recycling center to be repulped.

Among the several strong keynote speakers is Sergio Palleroni, who focuses his practice on work in impoverished and marginalized communities. In the vein of the late Sam Mockbee's "Architecture of Decency," Palleroni's Studio-at-Large has built schools in Mexico. He involves local community members to make buildings that are affordable, functional, environmentally friendly and beautiful.

A hallmark of HOPES is the 24-hour charrette — an intensive design exercise meant to generate a variety of ideas around a particular project. This year the project is organized by the student group Design Bridge and involves a garden complex planned for North Eugene High School. The gardens are seen not only as a learning tool but also as a source of fresh food for the schools, a revenue generator in plant sales and a gathering space for the students. Community members are encouraged to join teams of student designers and planners.

One of the most valuable features of HOPES for community members is the variety of hands-on workshops offered. The workshop entitled "Fast Fuel Nation" involves the process of making biodiesel fuel from french fry oil. A modular green roof demo and installation will show hands-on how to build, plant and install green roof modules. EWEB's "Earth Advantage" workshop focuses on how to maximize energy efficiency, conserve materials and make homes healthier. A "down and dirty" workshop will focus on natural building materials such as cob and straw bale, and another will deal with the installation of solar energy systems.

Very much in the tradition of HOPES will be a demonstration of a portable water catchment and filtration device intended for disaster relief. The design is a result of student-run competition.

The Trashy Fashion Show harnesses the exuberance and fun of the conference. A drop-in workshop all day Saturday allows anyone to put together their own glamorous/clamorous ensembles with recycled materials and trash — from chic to cheeky (imagine an architecture student clad in old LPs). The event culminates Saturday night with music dancing and the fashion show on the runway — flash bulbs popping.

There is much more to take in, including panel discussions, professions showcasing sustainable design projects, an alternative vehicle parade, and of course, good healthy food.

HOPES provides a place for kids (ages 6 through 12) to engage in art and other related projects, allowing parents to take in the conference.

Speaking as someone who watched HOPES evolve from its birth over a decade ago, I see in it an energy unlike any other conference I've attended. It comes from the enthusiasm of young acute minds — students throwing their hearts and souls toward something meaningful and good.

For a full schedule and to register, visit

[Full Disclosure: I am the current Campus Sustainability Coordinator for the Ecological Design Center and am involved in organizing HOPES 2006. As such you can consider me an entirely biased author on this subject. Still, read the Eugene Weekly article below and attend the conference yourself if you live in the area if you don't believe me: HOPES 2006 is not to be missed!]

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a fabulous opportunity for earth lovers of all ages. Wish I lived in Eugene and could attend.