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Whole trees support roof of new sustainable Vastu building
by Global Good News staff writer
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19 June 2012
In another large-scale practical application of Maharishi University of Management's annual EcoFair event, the newest building on campus utilized whole trees in its construction.
The recently completed Sustainable Living Center was influenced in a number of ways by innovations brought to light at the EcoFair. The EcoFair is a yearly event which brings together leaders in the field of sustainability and shares their ideas and discoveries with the world.
In addition to the ideas of daylighting, earth block construction, and earth plaster, the EcoFair also inspired the building's designers to incorporate whole trees into the Sustainable Living Center.
Founder of Whole Trees Architecture and Structures, Roald Gundersen, visited the Maharishi University of Management campus to speak about his life's passion of constructing buildings primarily using trees and whole trees instead of wood that's been split and made into boards.
This style of construction has a number of benefits, explained Jon Lipman, architect of the Sustainable Living Center, during a recent tour highlighting the new building's unique integration of sustainable design features in an overall framework of Maharishi Vastu architecture.
'The wood is much stronger structurally,' Mr Lipman said. 'Trees grow as concentric rings . . . and each of these rings has a certain amount of structural strength. When you slice the trunk of a tree to make a 2x4 or a 2x6 [standard sizes of wooden boards] you lose the particular geometric strength of the circle, of the way that it grew. So wood becomes structurally more efficient when it remains in the shape of the cylinder in which it grew.'
But the benefit extends beyond the structural into the aesthetic.
'Also, it's beautiful and it's truly natural,' Mr Lipman added.
The Sustainable Living Center's designers invited Mr Gundersen to design some elements of the building. In the end, the central corridor of the building was lined with tree trunks. These are both ornamental and structural because the central corridor supports a high ceiling, above the height of the rest of the roof, to let more natural light into the heart of the building. This high roof is completely supported by the tree trunks.
Mr Lipman explained, 'The trees were harvested sustainably from a forest in Wisconsin that Roald monitored. He tracks every tree in the forest that's potentially usable. When he gets a job, then he goes through his database so he knows which are appropriate trees to be harvested and used for this purpose. . . . He did the heavy timber construction—which is quite specialized and was once the common trade of carpenters hundreds of years ago, but now is a fairly esoteric trade.'
See related article: Sustainable Living Center integrates eco-friendly and Vastu design
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