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Terreform and MIT collaborate to create the Fab Tree Hab

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Fab Tree Hab by Terreform and MIT architects

Fab Tree Hab by Terreform and MIT architects

Ever fantasized about a treehouse hideout as a kid? Surely.

Well, seems like this group of architects from Terreform and MIT believe that treehouses are not just for kids. Mitchell Joachim, Lara Greden and Javier Arbona, three MIT designers have taken this “every child’s fantasy” and created a living treehouse. What’s more, this dwelling not only merges with its environment but it also nourishes its inhabitants.

Sounds delightful huh?

The Green Factor

The Fab Tree Hab by Joachim, Greden and Javier dissolves our conventional concept of home and establishes a new symbiosis between the house and its surrounding ecosystem.

Terreform architects claim that this full-sized integration of house and ecosystem is also more “biologically pure” than other green buildings.

Most green buildings are still industrially manufactured and contain substances which may have harmful long-term impacts.  Terreform treehouses contain just trees, vines and plants molded around a cob (clay and straw) structure.

In order to build the arboreal frame, the designers utilize “pleaching” – a methodology new to buildings, yet ancient to gardening.  Pleaching is a method of weaving together tree branches to form living archways, lattices, or screens.

Trees such as Elm, Live Oak and Dogwood bear the heavier loads, while vines, branches and plants form a lattice for the walls and roof of the house. Prefab scaffolds cut from 3D computer files control the plant growth in the early stages.

The Edible full-sized treehouse: Fab Tree Hab

The Edible full-sized treehouse: Fab Tree Hab

On the interior, a clay and straw composite insulates and blocks moisture, and a final layer of smooth clay is applied like a plaster to dually provide comfort and aesthetics.

Existing homes built with cob (clay & straw composite) demonstrate the feasibility, longevity, and livability of the material as a construction material.  In essence, the tree trunks of this design provide the structure for an extruded ecosystem, whose growth is embraced over time.

The trees that form the frame and the plants that grow on the external walls are meant to provide sustenance for the inhabitants and other living creatures who interact with the structure. On this level, the designers aim to demonstrate that natural building materials, when utilized in their living state, can create a “superstructure” that is biologically pure and contains no unknown substances. They point out that new building materials, even those that champion sustainability, are nevertheless industrially manufactured and contain components that are not fully understood in terms of their long-term impacts.

Conceptualizing the Fab Tree Hab

The Fab Tree Hab concept, stemming from the insurgent writings of Thoreau, Emerson, Whitman, and Alcott, is representative of a notion of dwelling that has been envisioned as retreats, poets’ bowers, hermitages, and summer cottages in a Sylvan style.

Constructed through the use of 100% living nutrients, the Fab Tree Hab overturns traditional anthropocentric doctrines, instead positioning itself in a framework where human life is subsumed within the terrestrial environs. Home, in this sense, becomes indistinct and fits itself symbiotically into the surrounding ecosystem.

According to the designers at Terreform, this home concept of growng homes from native trees is intended to replace the outdated Habitat for Humanity design solutions.

By grafting a living structure into shape with prefabricated Computer Numeric Controlled (CNC) reusable scaffolds, a primary objective of designing this edible Treehouse is to enable dwellings to be fully integrated into an ecological community.

Now imagine a community made up of such edible habitats that produce oxygen, have a minimal ecological footprint, and are also a lot of fun!


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