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Artist-turned-builder Kickstarting eco-structure project at Ross Creek

Julien Jodoin-Eng is the mind behind Ross Creek’s new eco-cabin, which will be made from locally-sourced earth and straw, and will reuse solar energy and rain water.
Julien Jodoin-Eng is the mind behind Ross Creek’s new eco-cabin, which will be made from locally-sourced earth and straw, and will reuse solar energy and rain water. - Sara Ericsson

Julien Jodoin-Eng envisions new cabin as sustainability educator for arts centre campers

CANNING – A Kickstarter campaign to help fund the construction of an eco-cabin that’s crossing art with building is breaking ground at Ross Creek Centre for the Arts.

24-year-old Julien Jodoin-Eng is the mind behind the cabin project – a building he’s designed to be constructed with and reuse natural materials and energy sources.

He’s pulled from experience with sustainable building and creating two-dimensional art to plan the structure he envisions will become an educational tool for sustainability at Ross Creek.

The building was designed mainly by Jodoin-Eng, with some help from Halifax eco-engineer Michael Barton.
The building was designed mainly by Jodoin-Eng, with some help from Halifax eco-engineer Michael Barton.

“I’m hoping this will be a little source of inspiration for the kids who experience it and see how it works,” he said.

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The cabin is Jodoin-Eng’s main project this summer as he completes his artist residency at the arts centre, where he volunteered last year.

He’s launched a Kickstarter campaign, titled ‘The Firefly Eco Cabin Project,” to raise $10,000 to cover costs for building materials and the cabin’s passive energy collection systems, which will convert solar energy into heating and cooling and filter rain water for drinking.

“This is creating a piece of art that is also something super functional, and I’m hoping people will want to help with that,” said Jodoin-Eng.

The building, finalized with the help of Halifax eco-engineer Michael Barton, will be made from earth and straw sourced locally in Canning. Its walls will act as a natural air-filtration system, allowing for easy air circulation – something most buildings are built to avoid, said Jodoin-Eng.

“Most houses are made to be super air tight, and they have a mechanical system that puts air in. These earth-plaster walls have vapour permeability, or in other words, breathability, which is great for improving indoor air quality and regulating moisture,” he said.

The project is a labour of love for the artist-turned-builder, whose passion for the outdoors inspired the project.

Jodoin-Eng said the cabin’s exterior will be complete this year and hopes to finish its interior by next summer.

He sees the new structure showing campers taking classes and doing activities inside its doors that eco-friendly buildings can look normal, and wants to help teach them that buildings can be made from the very dirt they walk on.

“This camp focuses mainly on art, so this will be one of the main sustainability focuses for them when they get here,” he said.

“They’ll be seeing what can be done using natural materials to create a comfortable and really normal-feeling living space.”

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