Tree Hugging Home

Recently I got an email from a good friend about a very interesting home featured in The New York Times this past week. Have you seen it?


Architect Roald Gunderson and his family (below)


Is it just me or does he look exactly like Liam Neeson

Anyway, this talented man has made a career out of working with trees.


He built his home and greenhouse using WHOLE trees for structure after many years of bending and pruning them...

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

According to research by the Forest Products Laboratory in Madison, run by the USDA, a whole, unmilled tree can support 50 percent more weight than the largest piece of lumber milled from the same tree....(What!?? Crazy.) So Mr. Gundersen uses small-diameter trees as rafters and framing in his airy structures, and big trees felled by wind, disease or insects as powerful columns and curving beams.


Love this room! And love this fact:

“For every ton of wood, a ton and a half of carbon dioxide is locked up,” he said, whereas producing a ton of steel releases two to five tons of carbon. So the more whole wood is used in place of steel, the less carbon is pumped into the air."


<Talk about a railing design>

“I’ve taken 20 trees per year off one acre, for 12 buildings,” Mr. Gundersen said. “You can never tell that we’ve taken out that much wood.”

After he built the house for his family he built this solar greenhouse for his wife with thick straw bale walls...

and to top THAT off: Ms. Baxter manages a community forest project modeled after a community-supported agriculture project, in which paying members harvest sustainable riches like mushrooms, firewood and watercress from these woods.

I wish I had time to manage a project that cool. 

And I wish I had a greenhouse like the one above to nurture a garden. But as I look at my DEAD herbs I think I should wait on that...

Garden rip

via wide open spaces

Back to the amazing tree house...


"In architecture, how materials come together and how they are connected is really the god in the details," Gundersen said. "The connection is where things will fall apart," he said, adding that the crook of a tree "has been time-tested by environmental conditions for 200 million years."


Driftless Farm Bookend Branching Columns_small_crop_001

If anything makes me want to GO GREENthis article does. I have a heart for trees and it has always made me sad when I see one go. :(

 Powerlines, shmowerlines.

 Instead of knocking down trees why not build a house with them or around them?


For the Whole Trees Architecture website click here.

Click here to read the full article by Anne Raver

Photos by Paul Kelley for The New York Times