Commissioned by the well-known art supporter and successful businessman George Bonin and developed by the New York based firm Ignatov Architects, the Home Tree concept is an attempt for defining contemporary, adaptable rural architecture. Its strategy is based on learning from existing trees on site recognizing their natural optimization for the given location and climate. The aim is to align architecture with nature and deliver site-conscious, clean, energy-independent and feasible buildings. In opposition to the Treehouse typology, which presents parasitic dwellings burdening existing trees, the Home Tree concept focuses on developing free-standing, tree-inspired architecture. Besides the usual residential program, each Home Tree house consists of three integral parts that parallel actual trees:
- Productive interior garden (crown)
- Central cantilevered structure (trunk and branches)
- Geothermal energy exchanger (roots)
Subparts and systems also work in line with the natural prototype: glazed facades and solar panels utilize sunlight, reversed roof channels rainwater for irrigation, rough multilayered veneers provide insulation and moisture barrier, multifunctional vertical core distributes communications and utilities.
Each Home Tree project follows these five principles of design:
- Adaptability: the building shall adapt to site, not modify it.
- Integrity: architecture, structure and all utility systems shall work together and emerge from each other functionally and aesthetically.
- Efficiency: construction and maintenance shall require minimal material and energy.
- Independence: building shall be self-sustaining through usage of renewable energy systems and waste recycling.
- Feasibility: employed green strategies shall pay back within 10 years of use.
The Home Tree concept has been applied in real life in two instances – Large Home Tree (main house) and Small Home Tree (guest house). Thanks to this rare opportunity the idea has been explored all the way from theory to realization to feedback in two different scales and configurations. The collected data and achieved results in energy performance and quality of habitation have proved the feasibility of the effort.