Although a home’s environmental footprint and its actual building footprint are two completely different things, Konrad Wójcik, a Polish-born architecture student studying at Aalborg University in Denmark, views them as being closely intertwined — two peas in an octahedron-shaped pod, if you will.
In a quixotic design that aims to eliminate both of these things, the physical footprint of a home and the carbon-intensive trappings that come with it, Wójcik has donned his Ewokian thinking cap and created a self-sustaining, arbor-inspired housing concept that “would not have any footprint on nature.”
As you can see from the renderings, Wójcik’s Primeval Symbiosis (or “Single Pole House”) is a pointedly pointy A-frame cabin that floats above the forest floor, supported only by a triangular pole that pierces the ground like the world's largest garden stake.
Wójcik designed Primeval Symbiosis in direct response to the issue of urban sprawl and while he doesn’t exactly encourage it, he does acknowledge that it’s inevitable.
Instead of clearing away the trees and pillaging the land to make way for cookie-cutter tract housing, Primeval Symbiosis offers an alternative: zero-impact, origami-ish homes scattered about a (mostly) undisturbed swath of forest that, oh-so conveniently, isn’t too far from a city center. This would allow residents to commute by bike to their offices. A single, existing road would cut through a colony of these homes, and at the center of the colony, Wójcik envisions a transit hub including a bike rental kiosk, a bus stop, and a small parking lot for resident use that would take no more than 15 minutes to access by strolling along a network of meandering woodland paths connecting the homes.
The two-person homes within the pole-house colonies would be spaced out in a fashion that would allow for them to remain, in the words of Wójcik, “invisible” from one another — a fine idea considering the size of those windows. “We must remember that the forest is a place we share with its natural habitat and our presence cannot be too invasive.”
Thanks to an array of green bells and whistles, the units themselves would be completely untethered from the grid so that they can be “placed anywhere in the world without disturbing the local environment.” Wójcik explains: “Like trees, they feed from the sun and gather water to survive.”
Wójcik really, truly went all out: there's geothermal, PV solar, rainwater collection/recycling, radiant floor heating, triple-glazed windows, LEDs, natural ventilation and daylighting, and the list goes on and on. The units also include fireplaces that serve as an “emergency heating source” and there’s even a small biodigester tucked away toward the bottom of each structure. Shading during the summer months would come from the forest canopy.
As for materials, Wójcik conceived Primeval Symbiosis with Cradle to Cradle certification in mind, meaning that all of the building materials — the zinc cladding, the lightweight timber frame, paper insulation, etc. — along with pretty much everything inside of the dwelling, furniture and fixtures included, can be recycled and reused at the end of their life.
While Wójcik’s descriptions of Primeval Symbiosis can veer into histrionic territory at times (the words “slaughter” and “murder” are casually thrown around in reference to deforestation), there’s a lot to admire about the concept, even if you personally wouldn't want to squeeze into one of these cozy elevated abodes geared toward "able-bodied people with an open mind."
And to answer a burning question while we're on the topic of able-bodied people: you enter the units via a hatch that's accessible by climbing a folding metal ladder that extends from the bottom of the structure opposite its base. Not the easiest for hauling up groceries or drunk roommates, but with a pulley system, things could work out nicely.
Related stories on MNN:
- EcoPERCH: A ground level treehouse retreat
- In the forests of Denmark, a 'printed' house
- Tight squeeze: A container cabin nestled amongst the redwoods [Video]