The aptly named “One with the birds” is an innovative design for a temporary structure (in this case a hotel) based on 3 principles,
  • Sustainability– An ecological understanding of the project,
  • Flexibility– A flexible structure, (adaptable to different surroundings and possibly re-usable) and
  • Comfort– creating a comfortable atmosphere in a unique environment.
The ‘tree-hotel’ being an entry for the AIM ‘legend of tent’ competition from Penda (a multicultural design collective), focused on creating a connection which leaves no impact on the site, nor any harm on the material used. A natural and locally available material most suitable for the task is Bamboo. In the design, Bamboo serves as the core structural element and because of the specified methodology for erecting the bamboo ‘tent’ it can actually be dismantled and reused as scaffolding on a construction site or reused as another temporary hotel on a different location. This achieves the goals of flexibility and sustainability. How? The bamboo is tied together using rope, leaving out the need for nails or screws in construction, a nod to the tipis of Native America. Complex Joints can also be created using this rope method making the tents easy to erect as modular units.
Native American Tipi

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With these modular units of ‘tied’ bamboo members (measuring 4.7m x 4m), the ‘Tree-Hotel’ can then be constructed by joining several units in a grid pattern which can be expanded either horizontally or vertically.
With this frame work in place, tent modules can then be placed within the resultant pyramidal spaces.
The design includes several modules of varying sizes, such as a single tent (12sq m), a two story ‘presidential’ tent (62 sq m) as well as toilets (20 sq m). These adequate spaces achieve the goal of comfort.
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The flexible structural system and interconnectedness of the spaces, offer an endless number of possibilities with regard to building typology and size, all dependent on the desired goal. Although its, basically, still in concept phase, the question of amenities and services is left largely unanswered. it’s not yet clear how running water and electricity would be provided, but, with the plethora of ‘off-the-grid ‘options that presently exist, it should not be too much of a challenge. Suggestions such as a solar power array or wind turbines for electricity generation, a rainwater catchment system and a grey water treatment system as well composting toilets have already been put forth.
The design is a very natural and dynamic one, remiscent of childhood days spent exploring and playing up in the trees. While traditionally, we never really had tree houses in Nigeria, The feeling of being able to connect with nature and experience it in a 3 dimensional manner is one that is universal. This is the central idea of the design proposal and it has been uniquely captured and represented by this Tree- Hotel.

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