Architecture classes applied in treehouse design
Tree houses aren’t just for children.
Four Washington University architecture students’ design will be featured as one of nine “Extreme Tree Houses” at the Missouri Botanical Garden starting on Saturday.
The team, seniors Dave Adkin, Alvin Kong, Meghan Lewis and C.C. Pyle, designed a structure to look like an expanded tree ring structure, calling it “The AMAZEing Rings.”
The maze-like tree house is composed of several circular pathways, decorated with educational signs discussing scientific facts about tree rings. The structure, built entirely around a ginkgo tree, is between 25 and 30 feet in diameter, with the tallest part measuring eight to nine feet in height.
It was chosen by the botanical garden to be featured in its TREEmendous Exhibition.
The students say that implementing their design is a way to practically apply the knowledge they have gained in class.
To be selected for the exhibition, the four undergraduates had to compete against architecture firms, construction companies and other students.
The designers hope their creation will help kids learn about trees while having fun running around and trying to find their way through the structure.
“The fact that we followed through on this was very fulfilling. It was a great experience for us to apply what we learned and what skills we developed into a real world setting,” Kong said.
Those involved hope that the project will mark a step toward architecture students applying the skills they have learned at the University as undergraduates.
“In general, I think that Wash. U. is moving in that direction of applying designs outside the Wash. U. community,” Kong said.
Two “AMAZEing Rings” team members—Lewis and Adkin—are also working with a University class to improve the grounds of local Patrick Henry Elementary School.
“I think that they are an experimental group to see how undergraduates can handle developmental design,” Kong said. “Wash. U. is expanding more and allowing students to showcase designs and work outside of the architecture school.”
As part of the TREEmendous Exhibition, the construction needed to include an element of sustainability. The architecture students chose to donate materials of their construction upon the event’s closure to the Alberti program.
The Alberti program, headed by professor Gay Lorberbaum, recycles scrap materials from the architecture school and brings in local youth to work on architecture projects with them. Because “The AMAZEing Rings” uses large-scale materials, participants in the Alberti program will be able to work with larger resources, and increase the scale of their projects.
The construction lasted from April 15 to April 28. Team members worked before, between, and after classes to construct the project.
The exhibition, which celebrates the UN’s International Year of Forests, will be held at the Botanical Garden from April 30 to Aug. 21.