As part of his MA in architecture at University of Westminster, graduate Matthew Chamberlain has designed Street Tree Pods to provide starter homes on London’s streets, while also tackling the city’s high pollution levels. He believes the project can help people to realise that trees are “a vital piece of infrastructure for a city”. He claims the project could increase both the density of greenery and housing in the UK capital, while also allowing residents to enjoy the psychological benefits of being surrounded by nature – often overlooked in urban environments.
Street Tree Pod is a sustainable treehouse with a teardrop-shaped structure made from wood, designed to merge with existing or new trees. Taking up the same amount of space as a single car-parking bay, each structure would offer short-term accommodation to a single occupant. Chamberlain sees them being occupied by students, young professionals and first-time buyers, or to people who are homeless or in the process of being rehoused.
“Street Tree Pods seeks to offer a fresh insight into urbanization and community living within London, tackling and challenging both the current housing crisis and the growing pollution issues within the city,” explained Chamberlain. “These self-sufficient, low impact urban tree pods merge the house and street tree together, facilitating humans innate attraction towards nature and natural processes, along with focusing on the importance of wellness and sustainable architecture.”
The curved wooden form of the design is intended to reference inosculation – the natural phenomenon where the branches, trunks and roots of two trees grow and merge together. Cedar shingles would give the buildings a natural, textured cladding, while wooden bird boxes would be installed on top, set amongst the tree branches.
Additionally, a Street Tree Pod app would work as a real-estate portal for the dwellings. “The Street Tree Pod app was designed as a vision for how the project would develop in the future,” said Chamberlain. “The home screen of the app displays all the various types of street tree pods available, along with the relevant information that define it such as number of bedrooms and type of tree.” While Chamberlain designed the Street Tree Pods concept for the London Plane Tree, he has also developed a parametric algorithm that would enable it to be extended for use by different trees of varying shapes and sizes.
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