P.L.U.G. (Portable Laboratory on Uncommon Ground) is a collaborative design/build project by students and faculty in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies and the College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech. Matt Lutz, assistant professor of interior design, and a group of students from the School of Architecture + Design, have prepared this innovative structure to house Virginia Tech researchers from the College of Veterinary Medicine as they study the affects of human interaction on chimpanzees in Africa’s Mahale Mountains National Park, one of the most remote areas of Tanzania. INNOVATIONS INCLUDE:
- The P.L.U.G. structure is designed to be easily assembled and disassembled by researchers on location—no tools needed!
- With only two people needed for the assembly process, the parts lock into place like a giant Playmobile toy for grown ups.
- Webbed aluminum beams on the ground level cam-lock with vertical end panel structures. Then end panel structures cam-lock and support the upper webbed aluminum beams.
- Lightweight structural insulated panels in-fill the beams and form the laboratory space on the ground level and a sleeping loft on the upper level.
- A tent covers the structure and netting keeps insects and curious monkeys out while allowing breezes in.
- The clever design makes it possible to not only be self-crated for transport by ship across the ocean, it also easily converts to a trailer, which can be hitched to a vehicle and towed across land.
- The trailer also works as a handcart for when the roads stop and the terrain becomes passable only by foot.
- Placement off road is such a remote location also means the structure will be operating off the grid. P.LU.G. contains a small solar electric power station that charges 10 gel-cell batteries.