29 April 2012

Small-Scale Ecorevelatory Architecture: Treehouses, Tiny Houses and Tipis

The first time I heard the term, "ecorevelatory," I was at an architecture conference at the University of Oregon in 2000. It made me think of Gaudi, whose work I had seen in Barcelona when I went there in 1996. Around this time I also became aware of the ecobuilding movement. Since then I have seen a wide array of buildings that I consider highly ecorevelatory. They reveal nature through their form and materials, and they also reveal the nature of the person who designed them.

These types of structures fit well into a classic problem: solution ratio. Thus, the need for shelter, for creative outlets, for a greater connection to nature and each other; these needs and others are met by the actual building we live in. As we know, the medium is the message, and a beautiful space yields beautiful ideas.

It is an ideal situation, to me.

The difference between Art and Architecture? To me, Art is primarily spectative, meant to provoke thought and incite whimsy. Architecture, on the other hand, produces something you could actually dwell in. This makes it extra special in my book, and why I didn't become an architect a decade ago, I couldn't tell you. Perhaps it was the music, knocking at the doors of my perception. Or maybe it was the seed crops, asking for water and weeding. At any rate, here is a list of my favorite examples of ecorevelatory architecture.


Who wouldn't want to live in such an integegrated and inspiring structure? If you don't have vertigo, a treehouse brings out the kid in all of us. Check out:

A treehouse resort in Southern Oregon

Treehouse Workshops

The Treehouse Guys

Tiny Houses
The tiny house movement has taken off, and people all over are starting to agree that less is more. You can find detailed blueprints all over the web, but here are some links to get you started.

The Tiny House Blog

Tiny House Designs

Tiny Houses for Sale

Not just for Natives anymore, the tipi is actually a comfortable, easy to maintain structure that can be lived in year-round in most climates. A close cousin to the yurt, the tipi is usually much less expensive to build and easier to move.

Kifaru Tipis

Nomadic Tipi Makers

Colorado Yurt and Tipi company

Earthen Buildings
As old as mud, these building techniques have seen a new rise in popularity with the sustainability movement.

Awesome Article about "dirty" buildings

Northwest Ecobuilding Guild


I have been hearing about Earthships since I was a kid. Back then they were ugly piles of tires in the desert. Now they are beautiful functional sculptures that integrate every aspect of sustainability and artistic ecology.

This video is a must-see

How to Build and Earthship

Earthship Biotechture

Living Buildings

This bring new meaning to the term "living in the garden." Is it possible we can grow enough food on a building to feed the people who live there? I believe it is possible. Living walls help filter stormwater, clean the air, and beautify surroundings. And such a stunning structure is highly educational for everyone who sees it. This wall in Madrid is blows minds daily.

CNN Article on Living Buildings

Try doing a google image search for Living Walls

That brings us back to Gaudi. While his work could be considered extravagant, even wasteful when it comes to space and materials, his work is so inspiring, the spaces inside and outside so reminiscent of the wonder of nature, that I would argue the environmental impact of having built them is counterbalanced by the positive impact. Looking a Gaudi building makes you feel like anything is possible. I haven't studied Gaudi's politics yet, but I ordered some books from the library and I will update this after I read them.

No comments: