EMU’s Eco Music Festival Finds Sustainable Shelter

The EMU music festival announces the winning design of their concert shelter contest.

EMU is an eco music festival launching July 4th in Snowmass, Colorado. More than just a festival, EMU is packaged to be a summer destination event that’s fueled by a whole different form of alternative energy. In addition to a growing roster of music, founders Timothy Wooster, Michelin Hall and Alyse Pask have set the stage for people to mingle in a natural setting where they can explore the environment through mountain biking and hiking, dance to bands framed by the Rockies, as well as explore cutting-edge technology and ideas through a variety of event vendors.

Wooster, one of the three founders of the event, says the idea of utilizing sustainable shelters for the vendors was a natural progression when plotting out the event. As the trio discussed how they could leverage their collective talents, they took a look at the kind of events that were speaking to the sustainability community and most were typical: expos, exhibitions and conferences.

“It wasn’t that these were bad things, just not necessarily the way we would want to spend a fun weekend,” says Wooster. “We found that most of our friends had never met any of their closest business partners or friends by talking to one another across an expo table. So, in brainstorming, we set out to create a festival experience (fusing together a music festival and an eco exhibition), where people of all ages and interests could connect in a chic, casual, super-fun atmosphere.”

One part of the festival that beckoned for consideration was the shelters for the event. From the stage to the vendors, plastic tarps would be everywhere and a virtual scourge on their optimistic greening philosophy. So with the combined energy of EMU and The Neenan Company, a Fort Collins, Colorado based design firm that prides itself on the way buildings are built through what they like to call “Archistruction,” the team devised a contest.

On March 15th, the EMU Tent Contest was launched at The Neenan Company with lots of ideas coming back from architects, landscape architects, interior designers, structural engineers and construction personnel. The rules were simple: design a sustainable alternative for the 10×10 metal and plastic vendor tents you see at so many festivals around the country. All applicants had to identify was how their tent was sustainable, what materials it would be made of, and how the tent could be transported and assembled.

Ben Shepard, a 3-D animator at Neenan won the contest with his easily expandable shelter which uses the least amount of material and is the easiest to assemble. Shepard says he thinks it also helps that the fabrication is simple, that the cost of materials is far less than the proposed budget, and that the simplicity of the design makes it extremely mobile.

“I love design in all forms and my position as a 3D Animator at Neenan puts me in a really great spot where I get to be involved with almost everything that we do.  From the front end conceptual design, to the photo realistic architectural renderings and animations that help with sales and marketing. This challenge was great because it was a different take on design and it really made me think outside the box,” says Shepard.

Tent Concept: Adaptive Reuse

MATERIALS: Military surplus MC-4 parachutes and recycled tarps.

STRUCTURE: Reclaimed wood beams, (fire mitigated), or Pine Beetle kill wood.

SHELTER POLES: Recycled Scaffolding in metal or bamboo.

CABLES: Sustainable biodegradable Hemp Rope, recyclable steel cable.

EXPANDABILITY: Constructed tents can be linked to another to create a double wide tent facing each other or side by side without adding any extra timber or poles as the illustrations show. The larger expandable option uses 15 foot beams for the canopy expanse, and if needed, added rope or cable to help support the beam expanse for structural integrity (also shown in top illustration). This would allow for a space for vendors on both sides with 15 feet between the expanse, a large covered seating area, or a mix of both.

Wooster says concerts like these are a growing trend towards how we can demonstrate treading lightly on the planet when it comes to large events.

“As producers of clothing or festivals, it is vital that we integrate a green mindset into the very DNA from which all policy flows. If it’s not green, or already produced, why use it?” says Wooster. “When we first started this process, I never dreamed of some of the things we would be able to change through discovery of new products. Water bottles that turn into dirt within 160 days of being opened, festival tents that use all sustainable products instead of the traditional white plastic structures, organic wines with grapes grown from solar power, trees planted for every ticket sold, and the list goes on and on.”

Amy DuFault

Amy DuFault is a conscious lifestyle writer, consultant and fashion instigator. She resides in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.