Text of LIVING AMONGST THE TREES EMILY FIELD, CAMERON DOUGLAS, ELLEN LANA, FELICIA CENCA TREETOPIA!
LIVING AMONGST THE TREES EMILY FIELD, CAMERON DOUGLAS, ELLEN LANA, FELICIA CENCA TREETOPIA!
OUR VISION Treetopia is a model for possible alternative housing opportunities for students and faculty at Elon University. Our vision is to provide an outlet for the construction of creative structures amongst the trees on the Elon University main campus. We envision student built tree houses, both suspended and grounded, in which students live and interact closely with nature and their neighborhood community. Treehouses would be designed using permaculture principles taught to students through a learning by doing process, focusing on utilizing sustainable & renewable building materials. In this way we hope students would not only gain knowledge about architecture and sustainable building but also earn credit for their work or even reduce their housing costs. Students could build their models before arriving on campus in the summer using recycled materials from on campus resources or recycled building materials from local sources.
COMMUNITY (TRIBALISM): With the creation of Treetopia on Elons campus there is a need for smaller communities to develop, especially when centered around environmental goals for Elon. A community, or tribe, is of fundamental importance to human sanity. A tribe[is] best for a sense of belonging, for the freedom for fission by individuals or families in smaller bands, and for the maintenance of genetic diversity. A strong sense of tribe for Treetopians would fulfill the needs of the community. It is essential for the community to work together in decision making, maintenance of the communities natural features, helping each other, and contributing to the vitality of the community in general. For centuries, an individuals community served as a crucial aspect of their life by offering camaraderie, support, and security. Currently, our society has developed to living a far more detached way of life. Shifting to a tribal lifestyle based on environmental consciousness will enable the community to thrive; individuals working to help other members, managing the various aspects of a sustainably developed community, and contributing as a valued student working to further Treetopian goals. A strong sense of community would benefit each individual, the community, and Elon as a whole. Source: Paul Shepards Coming Home to Pleistocene
SMALL COMMUNITY LIVING Paul Shepards Coming Home to Pleistocene inspired this vision to look much more like a tribalistic community within Elon. Ideally each community would range in size from 20-35 people, making social interaction more meaningful and personal due to familiarity with community members. These members would share a community center in which they could hold events, eat meals together, and work on school assignments. Because the actual dwellings will be without running water and electricity the community center will draw all members in to interact. Source: Paul Shepards Coming Home to Pleistocene
BETTER LAND USE Treetopia is most effective for Elon Universitys use of the land and the third dimension. By building around and up into the trees we hope to reclaim some of the ground for sustainable agriculture in order to increase the food security and self sufficiency of the Elon campus. By putting student housing up in the trees we are in essence protecting the trees from removal while also making more room on the ground for food production. We hope to create a permaculture system below and around the treehouses in order to model it for the rest of campus to hopefully incorporate it into a larger, campus wide system in the future.
ELON UNIVERSITYS SUSTAINABILITY MASTER PLAN: In 2004, Elon University President Leo M. Lambert appointed the Environmental Advisory Council (EAC) who are responsible for raising awareness of environmental issues and promoting sustainable practices on the University campus. In 2006-2007, the EAC created the Sustainability Master Plan for Elon University highlighting the schools goals to minimize [Elons] impact on the global environment by establishing a carbon neutral university. Specifically, the Sustainability Master Plan recommends that the university develop a comprehensive plant to become carbon neutral by 2037, assess and report greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, provide the campus constituencies with information and issues regarding sustainability, and to address sustainability through various initiatives. In 2010, the Climate Action Plan was developed based on the universitys first greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions inventory in 2008 and subsequent inventory in 2009 in an effort to outline emission reduction strategies, emission reduction targets, options and strategies for sustainability, as well as how progress will be tracked. http://www.elon.edu/docs/e-web/bft/sustainability/Environmental%20Sustainability%20Master%20Plan.pdf
ELON UNIVERSITY GOALS: While committing to sustainability in various ways, Elon has yet to seriously address their environmental consciousness in an extremely visionary way. Goals: With these goals stated in the Climate Action Plan, projected 2037 emissions will be reduced by approximately 65,238 MTCDE, or 70%. WE NEED TO DO MORE! Lets move to the trees! http://www.elon.edu/docs/e- web/bft/sustainability/Elon%20University%20Climate%20Action%20Plan.pdf
INTEGRATION INTO ELON Initially the Treetopia neighborhoods would be integrated into the Residence Life housing options and be available to all students in the housing selection process. in order to allow more students the opportunity to live in Treetopia. If living in one of the neighborhoods does not appeal to students there are other ways for them to get involved including participating in gardening or assisting with the maintenance of the structures. This model is ideal for Elon because of our drive towards a sustainable campus and the great number of trees on our campus. We hope to use this idea to infill open land in and around main campus in order to use the land to its fullest potential without need for further expansion of the University into the surrounding neighborhoods and forests. By giving students the option to build treehouses we extend our campus buildings into the third dimension, a term coined by Register in Ecocities, to mean building up and using the already inhabited land to its fullest potential without extending impervious surfaces. Using this idea we can free up some of the land on campus to include farm and grazing land to make a more self-sufficient and renewable campus.
EXTENDING BEYOND LIVING Originally we thought Treetopia would become a fantastic selling point for Elon and draw attention and attendance for the school, drawing in students with a particular mindset suited for Treetopia. However, stretching beyond this idea leads us to think that this sort of living and curriculum would lead to Elon developing its own school dedicated to sustainability and environmental topics. This school would include programs such as sustainable agriculture, green design (including tree design), environmental engineering, and permaculture. Extending our vision to a new school will hopefully help all students integrate these practices into their everyday lives and invoke a more directed focus on sustainable living on campus and post graduation.
ARCHITECTURE EXAMPLES AT OTHER UNIVERSITIES At the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture at Taliesin University students are being encouraged to build their own houses as part of their learning by doing educational approach. The program demonstrates how climate, building materials, site orientation, and client needs and preferences inform design choices based on the tenets of Wrights organic architecture. In Frank Loyd Wrights words All students are encouraged to participate in the Shelter Construction Program to improve their architectural skills, gain a deeper appreciation of the design/build process in relationship to nature, and to participate in a team effort that is remarkably fulfilling. Although the climate of North Carolina and Arizona differ, we can still see the same ideas and principles being put into practice just slightly altered to fit the desert climate. *See next slide for examples from the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture http://taliesin.edu/campuses.html
Although these examples from Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture are not in the trees, the idea of using natural, reclaimed materials would be integrated into Treetopia. Photo Credit: http://taliesin.edu/shelters/shelters1.html
Another example from Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture showing a more suspended structure but in a desert climate. Photo Credit: http://taliesin.edu/shelters/shelters1.html
This photo shows how it is possible to shape and transform living trees into dwellings. The process takes many years but the flexibility of the materials provides the tree artist with almost limitless design possibilities. Although this is not part of our vision, the idea is a potential offshoot of Treetopia that students could further research and develop. Photo Credit: http://inhabitat.c