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Paradigm Shift

Dutch Architect Envisions an ‘Urban Forest’ with Houses That Look Like Trees



urban forest

What if it was possible to live in a city and a forest at the same time, having your house surrounded by green but being in close proximity to the downtown? I bet many of you could only dream to live in a place like that. However, this dream could actually become a reality someday thanks to Dutch architect Raimond de Hullu and his conceptual design called the OAS1S.

De Hullu’s vision of a green neighborhood is an off-grid community powered by renewable sources of energy and equipped with onsite waste and water treatment systems. All buildings would be made of recycled wood and organic insulation materials. Thus, the ‘urban forest’ would be completely energy and water self-sufficient and eco-friendly.

The community would consist of four-floor buildings equipped with triple glazing windows and solar panels. As for the interior design, there would be skylights, large windows and French balconies. De Hullu calls it “a treehouse combined with modern luxury.”

urban forest

An OAS1S community would be less dense than a commercial district in the city center but denser than a suburban neighborhood – it would accommodate a maximum of 100 buildings per hectare (2.47 acres). Except for houses, there would also be a space for hotels and offices, as well as leisure and commercial units.

At the same time, De Hullu’s design not only aims to reach maximum eco-friendliness but also involves the development of a real forest-like environment by covering the buildings in greenery to mimic trees.

“Detached and clustered tree-like houses are mixed with trees within an organic and compact layout. Car parking is kept at the fringes of the communities. By a short and delightful walk through a car-free park, people reach their home,” he said in an interview to FastCompany.

According to de Hullu, these compact urban forests could be interspersed in already established cities to create truly green neighborhoods where people could live in a natural setting and be in close proximity to the city center at the same time. This could potentially reduce the number of cars and, therefore, the environmental impact they have, as the inhabitants of the urban forests would have the access to public transport.

urban forest

Yet, the most amazing and revolutionary thing about De Hullu’s design is not its creativity and ingenuity but the fact that the architect wants to eliminate individual land ownership and thus make his plan affordable to anyone.

The concept of the so-called land trust comes from the works of Henry George, an American political economist who refused the concept of land ownership basing it on the fact that land was not created by man and is vital to sustain life. Without the individual land ownership, even low and middle-income families could afford to buy a house in the urban forest. Another advantage of land trusts is that the community members have the right to be involved in the decision-making of the way land is used, which means that without your consent, no one can build a hazardous plant or a crowded shopping center next to your house.

Now, the architect is looking for a location for the first urban forest both in densely populated urban areas and in less developed areas.

Both options focus on the essence of the concept, which is constructing a true balance between architecture and nature,” he said.

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