Course Blog

The Tree House: Are Urbanization and Nature Mutually Exclusive?

By 2030, the United Nations projects that urban areas will house 60 percent of people globally. It is undeniable that urbanization is progressing at a rapid pace. With new structures and cities erected left and right, humans as a species should also become more conscientious of how our growing habitat may in fact have drastic consequences in the environment. Is it that modern civilization should continue the footprint brought forward during the industrial era or is there a way perhaps to bring co-existence with nature into the picture?  With the progress of technology so far, humans have been trying to control nature to their benefit but perhaps that is not the ideal approach to ensure a quality of life that may be sustained towards the distant future.

One of the larger issues may also come internally at the expense of the individual’s mental health. Coined by Richard Louv, author of the book Last Child in the Woods, the term “nature deficit disorder” may perfectly describe the various issues that emerge from the individual’s increasing detachment (physically and spiritually) from nature. Thus, the mission behind our team is to not only conceptualize another sustainable material or green energy source; Tree House hopes to visually and aesthetically motivate and imbue society with a sense of communal responsibility and accountability towards nature.

Much like the standard tree house depicted above, the goal of Tree House is to seek solutions to future quality of life by building with nature.  While people live in isolation from their environment, they are thus relatively unaware of certain environmental issues that may be partially contributed to by themselves. By changing their own residences (that is, their immediate surroundings) to represent nature, perhaps we can influence and inform the behavior and attitude of society as we make them active citizens of the ecosystem.

Our approach to go about implementing is develop a series of tools that may able to be installed on existing infrastructure. The Tree House project will conceptualize, design and compile a variety of parts that may be able to transform an existing home into a more sustainable and perhaps aesthetically pleasing habitat (perhaps visually similar to this apartment in Malaysia shown above – a modern interpretation of a tree house). An example of a tool would be the use of green roofs for both energy generation and a natural coolant system; however, we seek to also integrate mycorrhizzal fungi into the design to effectively build a symbiosis and hopefully ecosystem that shapes the house itself.

The mission of the project is to not solve yet another sustainability issue. Building the Tree House, we hope to provide rather a framework and execution method for a number of ways to build with nature in a modern context. We hope to revolutionize current thought on matters regarding unsustainable practices and consumerism in order to drive forward substantial progress in not just preserving our planet but also ensuring the best quality of life for members of society in the future.


Brueck, Hilary. 2017. “Raising The Green Roof: Why More Big-City Businesses Are Putting Plants Up Top”. Forbes, , 2017.

Cooke, Lacy. 2018. “The Most Powerful Micro-Scale Biological Solar Cell Ever Created”. Inhabitat.Com.

Louv, Richard. 2005. Last Child In The Woods. Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill.

Santoro, Carlo, Catia Arbizzani, Benjamin Erable, and Ioannis Ieropoulos. 2017. “Microbial Fuel Cells: From Fundamentals To Applications. A Review”. Journal Of Power Sources 356: 225-244. doi:10.1016/j.jpowsour.2017.03.109.