The New Community Center is designed to meet the highest standards for ecological building, while providing an affordable and durable community center for the village of Dancing Rabbit.
The entire community was deeply involved in the design process, enumerating needs, prioritizing values, creating conceptual designs, and reviewing the architectural designer’s work.
Site and Layout
Dancing Rabbit’s vision of a pedestrian-scale village of 500-1000 people has been slowly but steadily manifesting since 1997. DR’s Land Use Planning committee has been shaping that vision while allowing individual members to create their personal visions within the village as it grows organically. Overarching goals of the plan include densely clustered dwellings whose layout creates positive outdoor social spaces, solar access for all buildings, green space within the village including room for gardens and food production, and a public and commercial town center surrounding a village green.
The New Community Center will be the first building located on the village green at the new town center. It will serve as cornerstone of that area of development, connecting with the existing village while also opening up a new frontier.
Positioned at the south end of town center it will have a public face on both its north and south sides, with the north growing more prominent as the village green becomes the focus of the village as it grows. A breezeway connects the southern village to the eventual village green drawing villagers into the center of town.
The New Community Center will provide much needed space for visitors, tours, interns, workshop participants who come to Dancing Rabbit as well as the residents of the village.The centerpiece of the building will be a large “great room” for social events, presentations, performances, and celebrations. There will be kitchen and dining facilities serving up to 30 daily, with capacity for 150 at weekly potlucks and special events.
Upstairs will house Dancing Rabbit’s extensive library of sustainability-related books and periodicals, as well as meeting and office spaces for our non-profit. Both floors will have dedicated space for village children so they can be near adults participating in community work and events. There will also be 1400 square feet of office space for individuals, non-profits, and businesses to rent, with half of that space dedicated to the Fellowship for Intentional Community office.
There will also be bathing and laundry facilities available for visitors and residents alike. There will be outdoor gathering areas both north and south of the building, plus storage for up to 25 bicycles and strollers.
The building is designed to take maximum advantage of passive solar heating, natural daylighting, and natural cooling and ventilation. The southern facade will incorporate a large expanse of windows shaded with a fixed louver system that will allow full solar gain in winter and block excess heat gain in the summer. Clerestory windows will allow natural light to penetrate deep into the building so that all spaces have abundant natural light. All spaces will have operable windows adequate for natural ventilation during spring and fall.
The building envelope will bring together the best of both natural and green building technologies.Through super insulation, air-tight construction, and passive solar design the building will require a minimum of heating and cooling energy to keep it comfortable.
Our target for insulation is R-50 for walls which will be achieved with a 2×6 wall with wet-blown cellulose with a lime-plastered strawbale interior. This will allow for all the natural beauty of strawbale with its deep window sills and organically shaped walls, while still allowing for a durable exterior that can stand up to the abuse of our Missouri weather.
The roof will use a double truss system to allow for a cellulose insulation value of R-84. The roof itself will be a durable standing-seam metal roof to allow for ease of water collection and photovoltaic mounting.
The envelope will be built to very strict standards of air-tightness, not quite to Passive House standards but approaching that level. Mechanical ventilation will be provided using an Energy Recovery and Ventilation system to maintain indoor air quality while minimizing heat gains and losses.
Supplementary heating and cooling will be provided through a ground-source heat pump with heat distributed through both forced air and radiant floor systems. The heat pump will also provide domestic hot water.
All electricity will be from grid-tied renewable sources, including an extensive array on the building’s roof. The building will tie into Dancing Rabbit’s internal power co-operative, Better Energy for Dancing Rabbit (BEDR), which provides solar and wind generation at a village scale. Dancing Rabbit’s ecological covenants require BEDR to export two times as much energy as is imported from the grid — far beyond the Living Building Challenge’s requirement for net-zero energy.
Due to state health requirements, potable water will come from the county water system, with rain water catchment providing for all non-potable uses. All waste water will be treated using a natural, non-chemical treatment system incorporating native flora and fauna. Excess storm water will be retained for domestic use, irrigation, or released slowly into the environment to prevent erosion and flooding.
Materials for the building will need to meet both Dancing Rabbit’s and the Living Building Challenge’s (LBC) strict standards. LBC requires all materials be sourced within appropriate distances based on the type of material. All wood must be reclaimed or certified as sustainable by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Plus, LBC has a strict Red List which prohibits toxic materials (including PVC, added Formaldehyde, and most common flame retardants) throughout the building; this is by far the most challenging aspect of LBC certification.
The new building will be certified by both the Living Building Challenge and the USGBC’s LEED system, aiming for LEED Platinum. These certifications will push Dancing Rabbit to a new level of ecological building (primarily with the LBC Red List requirements) as well as demonstrate clearly to the world our commitment to sustainable building. Currently only three buildings in the world have met the LBC’s strict standards and we are excited about Dancing Rabbit joining that elite and cutting edge roster.