The power of sun energy has become a catalyst for research for an emerging energy resource, algae production. Arizona State University's LightWorks facility, located at the Boyce Thompson Arboretum in Superior, Arizona, focuses on the development of algae research, growth, and production. The basis of this studio project was to utilize the knowledge and technology developed by LightWorks and design a complex composed of a desert observatory, small study laboratory, and researcher dwellings to serve as an educational tool for visitors and a meeting place for researchers.
The researcher dwellings are designed as small scale residences that showcase the daily progression of light. A total of twelve dwellings are located on the western side of the site and are partially built within the hillside to utilize geothermal heating and cooling. An elevated path cuts between the units; this path highlights the natural rainwater swale whereby rainwater collects in this trough then travels down towards the nearby stream. A nature trail unifies the dwellings and connects researchers to the rest of the arboretum and offers great views of the surrounding landscape.