Building with Whole Trees

Benjamin alerted me to this interesting article in the New York Times Home and Garden section. Below is a quote from the article written by Anne Raver of the New York Times.

Roald Gundersen, an architect who may revolutionize the building industry, shinnied up a slender white ash near his house here on a recent afternoon, hoisting himself higher and higher until the limber trunk began to bend slowly toward the forest floor.

Gundersen tree house

“Whooh!” he said, jumping to the ground and gingerly rubbing his back. “This isn’t as easy as it used to be. But see how the tree holds the memory of the weight?”

The ash, no more than five inches thick, was still bent toward the ground. Mr. Gundersen will continue to work on it, bending and pruning it over the next few years in this forest which lies about 10 miles east of the Mississippi River and 150 miles northwest of Madison.

Loggers pass over such trees because they are too small to mill, but this forester-architect, who founded Gundersen Design in 1991 and built his first house here two years later, has made a career of working with them.

“Curves are stronger than straight lines,” he explained. “A single arch supporting a roof can laterally brace the building in all directions.”

This would be a very interesting way to construct a small or tiny home. Go and read the complete article and view more pictures at the New York Times website.

Photo Credit: Paul Kelley



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Michael O'Leary - November 20, 2009 Reply

I’ve seen homes and home concepts that are literally built by interweaving the flora around a living space with the intention of creating a natural environment that is truly “green”. The idea is to maximize the flora and minimize the additional insulation required. This is a generational effort (both for the plants and the people) but would be an amazing community concept.

Bill at 18263 Days Later - November 20, 2009 Reply

The thing I love most about this idea (and others like it) is the slowness required. Much of the destructive and wasteful nature of our current construction paradigm stems from the ‘time is money’ hastiness required of it. The idea of starting a project one knows will not be finished before one’s death is almost wholly foreign to our way of thinking. I think with that comes a certain innate disposability which sits squarely at the root of much that is wrong.

ThisTinyHouse - November 21, 2009 Reply

What a coincidence — I just posted about this on my blog too. Reminds me of SunRay Kelley’s work. I love the idea of intimately incorporating trees in a space.

Ianny - November 24, 2009 Reply

Very interesting. Complete that nature touch with huge photographic prints of wildlife. Birds, in particular, would be apt.

mr.spokanewash - June 25, 2010 Reply

now this is interesting!

Transylvan - March 19, 2011 Reply

Macro bonsai!

BamaGal - April 8, 2012 Reply

Totally love it and would like a couple of trees in my home to create the finish that I have always dreamed. The heart wants what it wants.
Thanks for sharing!!!!

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