Whole Trees Architecture
Thinking outside the box
Although green interior design is usually thought of as changing the interior of house to make it healthier for people, more energy and water efficient it is restrictive to think within the box of changing a structure to conform to LEED principles. Architecture is a key part of sustainable design. And architecture is all about going back to core principles and questioning how things can be done differently.
One of these questions is why building practices are so addicted to concrete and steel. These two products rely on mining, carbon intensive transport and other factory processes. Whole Trees Architecture and Construction started in 2007 is a company that is questioning this rationale. Since its inception the company has designed 35 structures.
Whole Tree Architecture
Whole Trees Architecture and Construction is a small company set up by architect Roald Gundersen and his wife Amelia Baxter that builds houses and garden structures made from whole trees. Instead of cutting down trees and sending them off to be stripped and milled into planks they design houses so the wood from a tree forms an integral part of the structure. For each project a tree is chosen from Gundersen’s 134 acre property. If necessary the branches are bent while the tree is living to make the angles required for the project. Then the tree is stripped of its bark and left standing to dry out. This saves on storage space, avoids wood rotting on the ground and reduces the weight of the timber by 30%. Once dried the tree is cut down and is used in its entirety to form the basic backbone of the house. Other materials used include recycled wooden pallets and straw bales for insulation.
The result is unique each time. No two trees are identical and no two houses built using this system are exactly alike. The interiors are healthy because hardwoods are allergen free. The carbon throughput of the building process is low because the tree is sourced locally and factory manufactured building materials are kept to a minimum.
Costs and Benefits
Although much of the environmental problems in the world are partly
connected to irresponsible logging Whole Trees Architecture is careful
not to overuse the resources in his forest. Gundersen has compiled an
inventory of every tree in his forest and carefully chooses trees for
each project. He estimates he can make up to 15 new houses a year and
still maintain a healthy forest. He also uses smaller trees such as
black locust, ironwood and buckthorn that are normally overlooked by
traditional commercial building companies because of their lack of
timber. The costs for Whole Tree architecture are $120 per square foot
for buildings and $40 for farm based buildings.
This is a great example of sustainable thinking leading to sustainable design and green interior design.
Sustainable Design Hubs and Links
- The Dream of the Sustainable House
A review of different types of sustainable homes.
- The Importance of Re-Purposing
Imagine the world suddenly stopped producing new consumer items tomorrow. How would we survive? The answer is by re-purposing and upcycling.
- How to Reduce Your Home Electricity Bills
The average family in the USA spends $2,200 a year on energy bills. A lot of these dollars are wasted. This article is about what you can do to reduce the waste in electricity use in your home.
- Water Supply Crisis
1.3 billion people have no access to clean water and 2.5 billion lack adequate sewage or sanitation. The demand for water doubles every 20 years. At this rate, demand for fresh water will outpace supply by 50% in less than 20 years.
- What is Green Interior Design
Green interior design is about what is good and what is bad for peoples health, for the environment and for saving energy.
- The Bamboo Shop
Best prices for bamboo home and garden products. Bamboo is a renewable resource that is great for mats, blinds, furniture, office equipment, kitchen ware and many other environmentally friendly products.
- Strand woven bamboo flooring
Strand woven bamboo flooring is a strong and durable alternative to hardwood flooring. It is 50% cheaper than hardwood flooring and is easy to install. Bamboo is a renewable resource.
- Coconut Flooring
Coconut palms take only 5 to 6 years to reach maturity. Coconut flooring is a strong and durable alternative to hardwood flooring. Coconut flooring has all the benefits of hardwood flooring but it is environmentally friendly.
- Reclaimed Hardwood Flooring
Reclaimed hardwood flooring is made from disused and abandoned hardwood. It is often cheaper than new hardwood flooring. It is strong and durable and an ideal alternative to traditional new hardwood flooring.