Thursday, February 21, 2008

One Single Tree

The story of the 150 year old Chestnut tree outside of Anne Frank's house in Amsterdam, and the heroic efforts to save it, makes one think of our careless disregard for trees and the benefits they bring to us. (Read more about this at Treehugger) It is inevitable that a tree will succumb to nature and fall - decompose and regenerate. We seem to want to cling to this life, much as with a loved one whom is beyond saving, but can be kept breathing by heroic measures. Also, we have employed technology to make us feel better, allowing for the genetic re-creation of what is lost. Similar to the previous post on process landscapes, we seem to want to fight nature, especially when we've attached cultural significance to something natural.

:: Anne Frank House Chestnut - image via Treehugger

On the note of trees, interesting trends emerge - and always, the modes of representation continue to offer some telling insight into the motivations of the project and designer(s). In this regard, I've started culling images that for some reason or the other I thought made a subset of Veg.itecture. I call it, One Single Tree.

As mentioned previously on L+U, graphic representation often aims to highlight and focus attention to specific aspects. A variety of techniques (framing, composition, transparency, etc.) are used to acheive this effect. The reasoning for some, of course, is to provide context without obscuring the building. Others, it's a device to obscure the building, maybe a flawed corner. I'd like to this it gives realistic context and de-objectifies the building. None of this matters, with one, very strategically placed tree.

This graceful and poetic example from Phos Architects early proposal for the Mersey Observatory in Liverpool has a wonderful counterpoint to the strong lines of the buildings. In this case, the restraint works.

:: images via architecture.MNP

One tree can create tension, in this case, Redwoods blocking a neighbors solar acces to PV panels. It becomes technology over nature, in this case: From Treehugger: "It's not that we think trees are more or less important than solar collectors. It's that our state's leaders have said under the following circumstances, solar takes precedence," said Ken Rosenblatt, supervising Santa Clara County deputy district attorney for environmental protection."

:: image via Treehugger

Conversely, every LEED project should always attempt to maximize open space, and perhaps have some PV panels to boot, right? This diagramatic rendering of Brooklyn's Greenbelt, offers perhaps a more spare, winter aesthetic. Ironic, though, the first image on the website is tree branches...

:: image via Jetson Green

And a modern houseboat with extensive landscaping... i'm still trying to figure out how this one works with the flotation, and what happens to stability as it grows... but it's a nice thought.

:: image via WebUrbanist

While I jest at the graphics and minimal landscaping, we cannot disregard the potential of one single tree, viewed out of a single window, and what powerful impact that could have on someone. You never know, one of these single lonely specimens - could be THAT special tree.

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