Course Blog

Treehouse – Week 5 Blog

When first deciding to commit to this project, we didn’t think challenges would arise before even starting. But it happens to be that finding a concise answer to the question of “why?” is not an easy task. Not because it is difficult to find a reason, but because of the complexity of crystallising the abstract ideas in our minds into a single answer.

Being an engineer, I learned how to think in a problem-solution scheme, and therefore we started to think how people could benefit from such a project. We came across the concept of Nature deficit disorder, coined by author Richard Louv1 , to describe the increasing distance between individuals in modern society and nature, and the associated problems derived (including proneness to psychological disorders). But it didn’t seem to justify the whole project by itself: it does not include another whole set of our practical motivations: building sustainable systems, reducing pollution, working towards greener models…

But we soon found a common theme underlying each and every of the arguments we kept providing: the real value of the project dwells in its ability to reach closest to people, to change their most immediate environment (their homes) and therefore profoundly affect them. Maybe shifting towards more natural and organic homes will not only make people feel better. Maybe by changing their everyday reality and environment we can make a much larger-scale impact, by changing people’s attitude and behaviour, making them more responsible, aware and caring towards everything else.

We aim to design a powerful tool, capable of taking root in the deepest of people’s lives. We aim to tackle most of the problems that we traditionally fail to solve -contamination, irresponsible consumerism, unsustainability…- by targeting the people that may constitute the solution, instead of the problem itself.

The real value of the project dwells in its ability to reach closest to people, to change their most immediate environment (their homes) and therefore profoundly affect them.

We also tried to lay the foundations of how the project will develop. And here we reach a contradiction: we aim to design something radical that is able to produce a profound impact, but at the same time we need the solution to be accessible, and applicable to existing structures.

We therefore devised an ideal strategy, able to solve both problems. We decided to design and compile an inventory of specific elements/components that are able to turn a home into something more natural and organic, more sustainable and friendly for its inhabitants. From green roofs2 to microbial fuel cells3 , many possibilities will be considered and studied. The most promising, and those with better synergies with each other, will be chosen and integrated into a larger design: our concept of the ideal house, including all these natural technologies, as a model reference for a new scheme of living. But we also aim to make these components modular, opening the possibility of including them into existing buildings,after specific evaluation.

In this way, the project becomes more of a chassis and a delivery system for a variety of concepts, rather than a single application. With our best efforts, we hope to create the beginning of a revolutionary mindset, and provide a solution to some of the many problems that require a change.


[1] Louv, R. Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder. (Algonquin Books, 2008)

[2] Plant-e. Plant-e technology at

[3] Rahimnejad, M. et al. Microbial fuel cell as new technology for bioelectricity generation: A review. Alexandria Engineering Journal. 54(3) 745-756. (2015).