Grow Your Own Home Woven Out of Trees
Growing a home from living trees instead of building a home from felled
timber is the goal of an architect from the Massachusetts Institute of

Mitchell Joachim, part of the MIT Media Labís Smart Cities Group, along
with ecological engineer Lara Greden and architect Javier Arbona,
propose a home that is actually an ecosystem.

The Fab Tree Hab goes beyond sustainable housing
and so-called green design ó building with materials that have a low
impact on the environment and human health.

"Not only does it do zero damage, but it will hopefully clean the
air," said Joachim.

The habitat is based on an ancient gardening method known as
pleaching, which weaves together tree branches to form
living archways, lattices or screens.

In Joachimís vision, the exterior of the living house is shaped over
the course of several decades into a protective crisscross of vines,
interspersed with soil pockets and growing plants.

A clay and straw
composite fills in the gaps to insulate against the cold and heat and
keep out moisture.

He proposes constructing windows manufactured from soy-based plastics
that would flex with the home as it grows.

Water would be gathered in a roof-top trough and circulate by gravity
through the house, where it would be used by the inhabitants, filtered
through a garden, and purified in a pond containing bacteria, fish,
and plants that consume organic waste.

A composting system would treat human refuse. Water would also serve to
hydrate the plants and the tree itself, which would give off water
vapor naturally during
transpiration and cool the shelter.

The Fab Tree Hab would also rely on the sun for heat. Large,
south-facing windows would absorb warmth in the winter, while windows
located on the shady side at ground floor would draw in cool breezes
during hot months.

"The living house would be the holy Grail of this art form," said
Richard Reames, an Orgeon-based arborsculptor and author of "How to
Grow a Chair."

Reames uses grafting and pleaching techniques to grow
living chairs, benches and tables.

Joachimís dream is to plan an entire community based on the living
house design, but before that can happen, he will need to conduct a
year or twoís worth of sociology and feasibility studies.

In the meantime, he is currently designing a house in California that
will be constructed from 50 percent recycled and reconstituted
materials and 50 percent living elements.

The project is called
MatScape and Joachim sees it as an experimental step toward the
ultimate living house.

Grow Your Own Home Woven Out of Trees
January 21st, 2006 at 5:55 am
Impact Lab
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