Activity and Rejuvenation Center
The 2008 Ralph Rapson Competition, sponsored by the Minnesota Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, asked participants to design an Activity and Rejuvenation Center. Although the project is a theoretical investigation of architecture, the project site is located adjacent to Afton State Park, Minnesota, and is a complement to the Afton Alps Ski Area located immediately to the south. The Center assists people in reconnecting with their bodies and calming their minds through exercise and rejuvenating activities .
The Center is a lodging house offering 24 guest rooms for individuals or families. It adjoins the extensive trail system of Afton State Park. In the summer, people enjoy hiking, running, or terrain biking on the trails. In the winter, people enjoy cross-country skiing or snow-shoeing. After a day of exercise, people return to the Center to replenish their bodies through massage, sitting in the sauna, or soaking in the various thermal baths.
The Center’s architectural expression derives from its integration with, and utilization of the unique characteristics and microclimates of the site. Nestled into the earth and facing south, the building is protected from the harsh north winds. As the earth gently slopes, the building steps with it. Like a living organism, the building opens up to the south and inhales the sun and the air. In the summer, the shading elements protect the interior of the building from the affects of the hotter sun, but in the winter, sun is allowed to penetrate deep into the building. The building takes advantage of the natural air movements across the site, allowing them through so that they may naturally ventilate it and keep it cool.