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Green-as-can-be tent

Industry News | October 1, 2011 | By:

Eco-tent designed for ‘green’ mountaintop music festival.

Organizers of Eco Music Festival (EMU), held over the Fourth of July weekend at Snowmass Village, Colo., scrutinized every event detail for sustainability: biodegradable bottles and utensils, sustainable food vendors, carbon offsets and, naturally, an eco-friendly festival tent.

Neenan Archistruction, an architecture, design and construction firm based in Fort Collins, Colo., responded with a companywide contest to reinvent the traditional easy-up festival tent. The winning structure, the X Tent by Neenan 3D animator Ben Shepard, consists of pine beetle kill wood for the sides, bamboo poles for the over-the-head support beams, an Army surplus MC-4 halo parachute for the fabric and sustainable rope or cable for structural support.

Shepard studied the frame and canvas of an easy-up, but decided it would be hard to manipulate the same structure with sustainable materials.

“These observations led me to the shed roof design of the X Tent, which allows for individual 10-by-10-foot structures, but easily expands to 10-by-20 with a peak in the middle. You can also stack them side by side, which allows for any amount of length you want, depending on how many tents you have and the space needed.”

Contest rules included that the tent be able to be assembled in any environment with no special tools or knowledge by no more than two people, meet CPAI-84 flammability specification, and be built for $500 or less. (Shepard’s design came in at less than $200 per tent.) In addition, the tent needed be portable by one person and able to withstand mountain wind gusts.

Going from building a prototype to installing tents at the event site helped Shepard to further tweak the design.

“The one downside of the design was putting one of the bamboo beams in place on each tent, as it required someone to be able to reach up to 7½ feet,” he says. “After realizing this, I came up with a design that allows anybody to put it together, and it has the added benefit of making it easier to take down, pack up and move.”

Once they had set up a few tents at the event site, Shepard and a partner were able to take a tent from a packed state to installed in six minutes. Over the course of the four-day festival, the tents withstood wind and rain without any problems.

“The X Tent was outstanding and exceeded my expectations in every way,” says festival producer Tim Wooster. “Attractive, innovative, sustainable, functional and fun!”

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