STILLWATER — Although a finished product is still a long way off, Oklahoma State University's eco-village is beginning to take shape.
After unveiling four new designs for the campus housing unit, OSU officials are discussing what to include in the project and how it will fit with the university's overall mission.
The project is designed to incorporate ideas about sustainable living and living in a socially integrated community into on-campus student housing.
The new designs officials unveiled last week are student prototypes, said Jane Talkington, project director for OSU's Wake Up and Dream initiative. The initiative is part of the university's Institute for Creativity and Innovation.
The designs involve four sites — one rural, another urban, a third making use of an existing site and the fourth built on an existing infill site.
Although the designs are a solid starting point, Talkington said, they represent the first steps in a lengthy process that will involve meetings with various groups and professional architects.
“This is the first iteration,” she said. “There will be another 99 to go.”
OSU officials began to pursue the idea last year as an alternative to traditional campus housing.
The idea is to create an integrated community where students are given the freedom to pursue interests and learn from each other's interests.
Space will be set aside for residents to pursue any projects they choose, with projects changing from one year to the next. For example, a student who moves in one year and is interested in aquaponics could start a group to pursue that interest. The next year, another student could start a group for solar technology.
Many of the details of what the village will include will be determined as planning progresses.
A number of campus groups have expressed interest in being involved, Talkington said.
A group from the School for Hotel and Restaurant Administration has discussed the possibility of operating a bed-and-breakfast at the village, she said.
The village is designed to promote interest and discussion about such issues as energy literacy, water conservation and food security, Talkington said. But the primary purpose is to show students how living in a community benefits people.
During last week's announcement, OSU President Burns Hargis said the project is part of the university's effort to break down barriers that separate academic disciplines, creating more dialogue across fields.
OSU officials launched the Institute for Creativity and Innovation to foster interdisciplinary dialogue.
Working across academic disciplines helps faculty members solve problems and make strides that wouldn't otherwise be possible, Hargis said.