In the present and traditional homeland of the Penobscot Nation, Tekαkαpimək Contact Station is a 734 m2 carbon-neutral off-grid building welcoming the global public to Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument in northern Maine. This project, in consultation with the National Park Service (NPS) and a Wabanaki Advisory Board, is led by Elliotsville Foundation, Inc. which held “Reserved Rights” on portions of the 87,500 acres of Monument land donated to the United States on behalf of Burt’s Bees founder Roxanne Quimby.
The Monument lands are within the present and traditional homeland of the Penobscot Nation and are inextricably linked with Penobscot culture, ceremonies, oral traditions, language, history, and indigenous stewardship which continues the respectful relationship with the land and waterways that has gone back more than 11,000 years. Katahdin is a culturally significant place to the Wabanaki people where connecting watersheds provide important travel routes for Wabanaki people of Maine, comprised of Maliseet, Mi’kmaq, Passamaquoddy, and Penobscot Nations. The project is expected to be completed in 2023 and will be offered in whole as a donation to the United States for management by the NPS. Tekαkαpimək will open to the public in 2024.
The design of the contact station is based on a symbiotic relationship of the building to its environment that maximizes passive design strategies for heating and cooling as well as using renewable sources from the immediate site for its operation. The environmental concept sets ambitious sustainability goals to design a self-sufficient and environmentally responsible building – also in a way that is apparent to Monument visitors and serves as a tool for teaching the public. These goals are: (1) have a circular design between inputs and outputs to minimize the impact to the environment, following consultation and cultural teachings from Wabanaki partners; (2) maximize passive strategies to reduce energy use and increase building resilience; (3) have simple but robust active systems for high performance; and (4) capture and store renewable energy sustainably on-site.
The building operates as a thermal battery with high thermal mass indoors. The strategies for heating include passive solar, radiant floor heat, interior thermal mass, a Trombe wall heat capture system for heating outside air, a great thermal envelope, and an air-source heat pump in tandem with a propane boiler. There is no active cooling; all such needs are met with natural cross ventilation, night flush cooling, thermal mass, exterior shading, and ceiling fans. This required an energy efficient building and balance capture and storage of on-site renewable energy with a photovoltaic solar array and lithium-ion batteries, as well as reducing carbon in materials and construction. The mass timber structure is significantly reducing the embodied carbon of the structure and storing carbon in the biogenic material. The CLT timber is resourced sustainably and FSC certified, and the glulam is produced and manufactured on the east coast of the U.S. The Douglas fir timber for the columns was laminated locally through a unique process designed to preserve the natural look and feel of the wood.