Campus Farm Green Dorm

Green Building
1 week
[sustainability research][amateur architecture design]

What is Campus Farm Green Dorm?
Campus Farm Green Dorm is a dormitory envisioned for University of Michigan Campus Farm.

What does Campus Farm Green Dorm do?

Campus Farm Green Dorm promotes a sustainable and healthy lifestyle for its residents, and calls for sustainable-living education among U-M students.

Context Research


Site visits

I went on field trips to U-M Campus Farm to investigate the site, and to a certified green building nearby to hear the owner talk about the green building design.

The U-M Campus Farm is located around 15 minutes away from central and north campus. It hosts programs and events for students to participate in activities relating to the production of sustainable food and studies of food systems. The farm’s produce goes to the U-M dining.

At present, there is open land at the U-M Campus Farm that is envisioned to be a future dormitory in this project.

Presently, features at the U-M Campus Farm include: a straw-bale building , a food forest, several passive solar hoop houses, and it is also attached to the Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum.

The highlighted area would be the ideal place for a potential future dormitory. It is adjacent to the small roads that leads to the main road, there is already a small parking lot, it is near to the other facilities at U-M campus farm but not directly attached.

The south of the site faces the forest. It would be ideal to maximize windows on the south of the dormitory to both maximize solar gain and create scenic views.

Sustainability Research


Living Building Challenge

The Living Building Challenge is an international sustainable building certification program created by the non-profit International Living Future Institute. It calls for the creation of a regenerative built environment.

The Living Building Challenge’s framework is represented by a flower metaphor. Each petal of the flower represents a a performance area in the framework, including: place, water, energy, health+happiness, materials, equity and beauty.


Solar Energy+Water

From the research process, I learned there are two kinds of solar energy systems: active solar gain and passive solar gain.

Active solar gain is typically incorporating photovoltaic panels to collect the sun’s energy and using other mechanical components to process and store the energy for use.

Passive solar gain “collect and transport energy by non-mechanical, natural means”.  Examples for passive solar gain include:
              • Overall structure elongated along the east-west axis
              • Placing large windows on the south side
              • Shortening the north side
              • Placing highly-utilized rooms on the south side
              • Skylights to allow direct sunlight into the space
              • Shading to maximize winter solar gain and control summer solar gain
              • Cross ventilation
              • Using materials with large heat capacities
              • Sunspace
              • Solar greenhouse


Food System

Food plays an important role in the residents’ lifestyles, and would also be important for optimizing the health and happiness petal in Living Building challenge.

Since the dormitory is located on the campus farm, there is already an underlaying theme of a natural, self-sustained and healthy lifestyle.
“Users” of the dormitory are college students at U-M. This is a crucial stage in their lives for building living habits and skills. Community-bonding is also an important aspect to consider.

With these in mind, I decided to incorporate features of an attached green house, an open community kitchen directly connected to the green house, and a community dinning room also directly connected to the two.

The idea is to implement the philosophy of “farm to table”, the appreciate of food through the growing and cooking process, and an opportunity for community bonding.

User Research



After conducting interviews, I defined my user group and made the following personas.
(Each school year,) 10 U-M students will live at campus farm dormitory.

They are environmentally-conscious, like to exercise, and prefer to have study/social spaces on site, instead of being stuck in their room all the time.

Some students may be Freshman who just left home for college, and needs some form of education to form living habits such as cooking and eating, energy-saving etc.

The Green Dorm


Main Common Areas

The main common area is made up of three connected areas: the attached green house, the open community kitchen, and a community dining room. 
It is an embodiment of the main themes of the building:a healthy, natural and sustainable community lifestyle. 
The main common area is also connected to an outdoor area and a “sky lounge”. 


Building Structure


Accordance to Living Building Challenge

Violet Han @2023