The Neenan Company, an integrated architecture and construction firm based in Fort Collins, Colorado, partnered with the EMU Festival, an eco-conscious music festival held in Snowmass, Colorado, to re-invent the traditional music festival tent. Neenan employees were invited to participate in a contest to create the world’s first sustainable festival tent. The goal of the contest was to create a portable structure that could be installed on a city street as easily as it could at the top of a mountain. Materials for the tent were required to be biodegradable, recyclable, or have a sustainable end-of-life plan, so none of the pieces would end up in a landfill. In addition, the design needed to be easy-to-assemble, so that the tent could be put together by a few people with minimal or no tools.
Designer: Ben Shepard, 3D Animator, The Neenan Company Location: Fort Collins, Colorado, USA Collaborators: Randell Johnson, AIA, Vice President Business Development, The Neenan Company; Timothy Wooster, Founder, EMU Festival Project Year: 2011 Renderings: The Neenan Company Photographs: Yann Ropars and The Neenan Company
The top three design submissions were determined by EMU organizers, and the winning design was revealed through an online Facebook vote. The winning designer was Neenan 3D Animator, Ben Shepard, with his X Tent design.
About the X Tent: The inspirations for Ben’s X Tent design were mobility, sustainability, and expandability. Description: The X Tent unfolds into a cross-like structure of wooden beams for vertical support. The cantilevered beams are connected by 10-foot poles that hold the canopy. Construction of each tent requires two people and approximately 10 minutes; the tent can be transported over most surfaces with only one person.
Materials: The X tent uses only sustainably-sourced materials for its construction: • Wooden beams: Salvaged pine beetle kill wood that was locally sourced and milled. • Support poles: Bamboo poles connect the wood frames together. • Canopy: Made of reclaimed military surplus MC-4 parachutes, which slip into the poles and stretch across the wooden beams. The parachute fabric is double-layered, allowing for natural light to enter the tent while blocking radiant heat from intense Colorado sun, and protecting tent occupants from the wind and rain.
Expandability: The X Tent is expandable, so that individual components can be linked to create larger structures. This allows for specific configurations for larger vendors, performers, speakers, or other uses. The tent is designed to provide shelter for a 10’ x 10’ space, but can be easily expand to a much larger structure by connecting multiple tents.