Whole Tree Architecture

Use trees that no one wants (overcrowded, diseased, fallen, invasive, wind-bent, young growth) and create amazing buildings with them.


Whole Tree Architecture

Roald Gundersen, of Stoddard, Wisconsin, has been using whole tree round timber technology to construct beautiful, strong, economical and extremely green buildings for the past 20 years.



Whole Tree Architecture

This farmhouse in Avalanche, Wisconsin, was built almost entirely from trees taken from within 500 yards of the house. The house features a slab on grade foundation with in-floor heating tubes to take advantage of the solar gain in the winter from its large southern exposure. The envelope is straw bale, but the structure is entirely “whole tree” with branching columns supporting it and framed with round wood poles under the second floor and roof. The attached solar greenhouse on the south side of the house adds heat in the winter and serves as a gray water recycling system to treat water from the kitchen and shower. The trees for this structure were skidded out with the farm draft horse.


Whole Tree Architecture

Roald Gundersen, founding partner and CEO of Whole Trees, received his Bachelor of Architecture and a BS in Environmental Design from the University of Minnesota, (1984). His work as a project architect on the Biosphere 2 in Arizona focused his architecture on integrated living systems. On returning to his native Wisconsin, Roald has spent the last 20 years creating a place-based architecture from abundant, local and low energy materials. He has pioneered the use of whole trees/round timbers in residential, institutional and commercial construction projects, inspired by the 140 acres of forests he stewards near La Crosse, WI.



Whole Tree Architecture

Inside view... “It's a design challenge as well as a construction challenge, because we're very much in a machine age,” says Gunderson. "While machines are good at straight lines, trees love to do curves."



whole tree architecture

Whole Tree Building in Minneapolis.
Interior design by Gabberts Design Studio, yet architect not stated.
www.houzz.com


whole tree architecture

Whole Tree Building in Minneapolis.
Interior design by Gabberts Design Studio, yet architect not stated.
www.houzz.com



whole tree architecture

Whole Tree Building in Minneapolis.
Interior design by Gabberts Design Studio, yet architect not stated.
www.houzz.com


whole tree architecture

Whole Tree Building in Minneapolis.
Interior design by Gabberts Design Studio, yet architect not stated.
www.houzz.com


whole tree architecture

Whole Tree Building in Minneapolis.
Interior design by Gabberts Design Studio, yet architect not stated.
www.houzz.com



Whole Tree Architecture

Structural testing of small diameter round timbers conducted by the USDA Forest Products Laboratory found that small diameter round timber is 50% stronger in axial loading and bending than a comparable cross-sectional area of milled lumber. This is due in part to the fact that milling violates a tree’s concentric, continuous and spiraling fibers removing the strongest outer layers of the tree, which are naturally pre-tensioned to resist wind shear. www.wholetreesarchitecture.com



Whole Tree Architecture

Gundersen states that; “(milled) wood comes from British Columbia and Indonesia, but who in Iowa doesn't have standing dead elm on their farm? For a lot of local farmers, woods are a non-profit part of the farm.” Young growth forestry offers builders an affordable, local alternative to expensive, far-away materials. “In the future, if people do start using this material more and in a much bigger way, there can also be this whole economy that doesn't now exist in each local community.” www.wholetreesarchitecture.com



Whole Tree Architecture

The Kara Woods Residence is a new home for two Franciscan Sisters at the Christine Center, a Natural Sanctuary in Willard, WI. Their desire for a home that provided space for their artistic, intellectual, creative and spiritual pursuits has resulted in this design of a low sod-roofed Whole Tree structure with a round workshop space and an encompassing living area extending eastward into more private areas. Construction was completed in Fall 2010. www.wholetreesarchitecture.com



Whole Tree building

Whole tree round timber buildings compete favorably with conventional construction while offering a more durable and fireproof structure. From the perspective of the community, whole tree round timber construction invests a greater proportion of its costs into local jobs and materials than conventional construction and also promotes healthy forest management for local timber resources. www.wholetreesarchitecture.com



whole tree architecture

Whole tree supports in home in the Poconos by Josh Jackson.
timberhomesllc.com



Whole Tree Architecture




Whole Tree Architecture

 

www.wholetreesarchitecture.com

 

 

Whole Tree Architecture

Myrick Hixon EcoPark building. Whole Trees installed a 26'-0” structural round timber column, large wooden slab benches and a round timber stair leading up to a new mezzanine space. www.wholetreesarchitecture.com



whole tree architecture

Corallo House / PAZ Arquitectura
Guatemala. Unbelievable house!
www.archdaily.com


Whole Tree Architecture


Structural testing by the USDA Forest Products Laboratory has found that "small diameter round timber" or "whole tree round timbers," in comparison to steel, are comparable in their weight-to-strength ratio in compression and are twice that of steel in tension.

 


whole tree architecture

Whole tree rafters at the Gatehouse.
www.envisioneer.net




Whole Tree Architecture

Maharishi University of Management’s new Sustainable Living Center in Iowa is a model of environmental excellence. The zero energy classroom building, by Innovative Design, will feature a roof full of PV panels, a rainwater catchment system, natural ventilation and local and regional sourcing for all materials in accordance with the Living Building Challenge. Whole Trees is providing a structural colonnade for the central hallway, which will sequester tons of CO2. Visit the Sustainable Living Center website: www.mum.edu



Whole Tree Architecture

Maharishi University of Management - central hallway. www.mum.edu



whole tree architecture

David Vandervort Architects.
Key Peninsula Residence, vandervort.com



Whole Tree Architecture

 

www.wholetreesarchitecture.com




Whole Tree Architecture

Urban Plans
www.wholetreesarchitecture.com

 


Whole Tree building

WholeTrees modular eco-kit design. Under a thousand square feet, the Tussen Taak Residence divides its space between a high ceiling living/dining/kitchen space and a more private bathroom and bedroom area with a loft space above. The internal structure is Whole Tree and the perimeter walls are constructed from re-purposed shipping pallets to reduce the amount of new materials needed. The arching shed roof angles up to the south to take full advantage of passive solar design principles. www.wholetreesarchitecture.com



Whole Tree Architecture




whole tree greenhouse
 
This whole tree greenhouse, completed in 2010, was prefabricated during the winter and erected on site in a series of concentrated construction site visits. It has a round wood, whole tree structure and polycarbonate paneling and vents on both the south façade and the north roof. At Troy Gardens, a 26 acre urban property in Madison, WI, with community gardens, an organic farm and restored prairie and woodlands. See lots more greenhouses here: www.wholetreesarchitecture.com



Whole Tree playground

Whole Trees has designed and constructed a two-story playscape with a swinging bridge leading out to a free-standing "bird’s nest" platform, inviting children to experience the varied levels of the forest (floor, trunk zone, and canopy). The pentagon-shaped platforms frame views to nearby marsh and bluffs. www.wholetreesarchitecture.co




whole tree shelf supports

Tree limbs support kitchen shelving.
Hornby Island Caravans
www.hornbyislandcaravans.com



Across the pond, in Wales:

 

whole tree architecture

Home by Simon Dale (man hours 1500, cost $4700). www.simondale.net


whole tree architecture

Whole Tree House by Simon Dale (his second). www.simondale.net



whole tree architecture

Whole Tree rafters and framework. Main tools used: chainsaw, hammer and 1 inch chisel, little else. www.simondale.net


whole tree architecture

www.simondale.net


whole tree architecture

 

Key design and construction points:

Dug into hillside for low visual impact and shelter
Stone and mud from diggings used for retaining walls, foundations etc.
Frame of oak thinnings (spare wood) from surrounding woodland
Reciprocal roof rafters are structurally and aesthaetically fantastic and very easy to do
Straw bales in floor, walls and roof for super-insulation and easy building
Plastic sheet and mud/turf roof for low impact and ease
Lime plaster on walls is breathable and low energy to manufacture (compared to cement)
Reclaimed (scrap) wood for floors and fittings
Anything you could possibly want is in a rubbish pile somewhere (windows, burner, plumbing, wiring...)
Woodburner for heating - renewable and locally plentiful
Flue goes through big stone/plaster lump to retain and slowly release heat
Fridge is cooled by air coming underground through foundations
Skylight in roof lets in natural feeling light
Solar panels for lighting, music and computing
Water by gravity from nearby spring
Compost toilet
Roof water collects in pond for garden etc.

Simone is also an excellent photographer - check out his photos: www.simondale.net

Read an interview with Simone here: www.simondale.net


Start Small:

Log Stairs made in Michigan: www.spirallogstairs.com



whole tree architecture

Treehouse House.
Photo from Thomas Cundiff Facebook.

 

 

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Ryan
Posts: 13
Comment
Inspiration and artful
Reply #13 on : Mon May 12, 2014, 00:40:21
I have enjoyed these beautifully designed homes I have access to a lot of trees and would rather not build with milled lumber for my house. I would like some electronic documents for design ideas. Engineering principles or tree selection. info on using green trees?

I'm thinking about trying to do a gravity fed aqua-ponics setup for seasonal plants, there's a big hill on the property. Please. Send any cool ideas... [email protected]
Sara Rawlings
Posts: 13
Comment
so good
Reply #12 on : Wed January 22, 2014, 00:02:53
Good to see the use of timber in this way. thank you for sharing.
Jay Johnston
Posts: 13
Comment
New construction
Reply #11 on : Fri January 17, 2014, 10:10:28
very cool, we live just east of St Louis(Freeburg,Illinois)on 20 acres of old oak & hickory woods. Any builders close enough to give us an opinion if we could do something like this?
Jay Johnston
h# 618 539 9188
c# 618 407 5063
~Gaiadóttir~
Posts: 13
Comment
Re: Whole Tree Architecture
Reply #10 on : Thu December 05, 2013, 14:55:01
So beautiful and inspiring :D Some of these photos are new to me. Thank you for sharing! <3
Jim Naples
Posts: 13
Comment
Great creativity!
Reply #9 on : Thu April 04, 2013, 18:52:03
Love this idea and how you use natural trees to come alive (or stay alive) in so many way. We live on the bay front on Long Island. Would love a pergola design to lead over the walkway to out waterfront. Do you work onLong Island?
Russ
Posts: 13
Comment
The Hobit in me loves this Archetecture
Reply #8 on : Tue March 05, 2013, 09:34:38
Really love the design and construction of these homes. You should send these images to Mr. Peter Jackson, he may be interested in having you work on his next Hobit movies. Or film in the ones you have already built. They're beautiful.
Michelle
Posts: 13
Comment
I see it now!
Reply #7 on : Sat December 01, 2012, 04:44:59
I haven't had my morning coffee yet. I see the inside now!
Michelle
Posts: 13
Comment
Wonderful Construction
Reply #6 on : Sat December 01, 2012, 04:43:46
This is so amazing and I love it! I would love to have something like one of the above to be built on my property! I wish you could see the inside of the house in the hill. That one is my favorite! Love it!
michael knight
Posts: 13
Comment
house
Reply #5 on : Fri March 30, 2012, 07:02:52
absolutely amazing and a great inspiration for me.
thank god people like you exist,
wow ,i'm getting ideas and inspiration from your creativity and freedom. i live on a farm in australia, there are many trees, clay and stone to build with,
i'm gonna let my hair down,and let nature inspire,
me,
ariel bueno
Posts: 13
Comment
kinesiologo
Reply #4 on : Tue February 07, 2012, 14:55:41
Estupendo!!!!
haganme llegar mas proyectos sobre todo para chicos con sillas de ruedas....
gert-jan van dunnewold
Posts: 13
Comment
inspiring
Reply #3 on : Sun January 08, 2012, 16:03:43
nice very inspiring! I am also working on making things out of the whole tree. Look at www.beeldhout.nl
Kind regards, Gert-Jan
Anonymous
Posts: 13
Comment
Re: Whole Tree Architecture
Reply #2 on : Sun January 08, 2012, 12:29:34
Hi Carol,
So sorry to hear the addition on your house was taken.

But, does sound as though you have the resources for a whole tree addition, being you have 12 acres. Sounds like a fun, but intense project! Have fun with the plans. Both the 'Whole Tree Architect' and Simon Dale had quite a bit of info on their sites, you just had to discover it, by methodically going page by page. Also check out - http://www.envisioneer.net/gallery.php - some good step by step whole tree designs here too. Best to you, Keiren
carol Garland
Posts: 13
Comment
after a narural disaster
Reply #1 on : Sun January 08, 2012, 05:39:22
My home in Barre, Vermont was part of a natural disaster I am able to still live in the original home built in 1924,but an addition from the 1960's has to be removed. I have not sought a FEMA buy out because there is little money left over to start again. I have 12 acres in another town that I have been trying to brainstorm what I could do to build another sturdy home with little money. There is about a half acre open area on base rock and rest is woods. I am very interested I have learning more of whole tree construction.
Thank you for posting on facebook,
Carol Garland
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