Posts tagged ‘treehouses’

September 14, 2011

Costa Rica Rainforest Treehouses


Costa Rica treehouse

Treehouse wonder in Costa Rica

“I’m fed up and I’m not gonna take it anymore!” If this is your current state of mind then consider this… Finca Bellavista: A Sustainable Rainforest Community.. Located on the base of an almost 6,000 foot primary rainforest mountain on the South Pacific Coast of Costa Rica – not far from the Pan American Highway, Finca Bellavista was created with the sole purpose of preserving 300 acres of local rainforest by offering a unique opportunity for ecologically minded property owners to live sustainably in and steward a managed rainforest environment. Forty years ago this would have been a no-brainer for me, but now there are other considerations that have to do with convenience stores, healthcare, 24 hour fitness…should I go

But for those of you who are more adventurous this is an alternative lifestyle that bears looking into.

With a principle focus of creating a balance between maintaining a fragile habitat for wildlife and using natural resources wisely, Finca Bellavista aims to implement sustainable energy practices such as hydroelectric and solar power, while operating a full-fledged recycling center and a common garden area for the community. This might make it an eco-utopia for some, but for others it’s a possible solution for dovetailing conservation with development.

As per Finca Bellavista‘s guidelines on their website, treehouses in the community must be low-impact, stilt-built or arboreal dwellings that utilize a rainwater catch system to provide water for each unit. Waste that is generated is to be treated with “a cutting-edge technology found in biodigestors”. A “hydroelectric turbine system” will power the entire community. The power grid will run via a system of transformers and underground power cables installed along the horseshoe-shaped main access road that runs throughout the community, producing peak power of 62 kilowatts at the generator leads. The power system at Finca Bellavista will produce clean, sustainable, and extremely reliable power for the community, all the while virtually eliminating any monthly electricity bills for residents.

Fancy a bit of socializing or Tarzan action? Residents can opt for either the community’s system of ground trails or its ‘Sky Trail’ network of zip lines and platforms that deliver them to and from their homes in the rainforest canopy. Missing the outside world? A main parking lot exists at the community’s base area, where high-speed Internet and WIFI are available.

The proprietors state that “these requirements will not only preserve the integrity of the rainforest canopy and its inhabitants, but will also provide an unusual and adventurous lifestyle for human dwellers as well. Imagine waking to the sounds of a tropical bird symphony or catching a zip-line to meet up with friends for a meal or an evening cocktail…” This might be a bit too much of an ewok housing scenario for some, or a real estate development plan that should simply exist as a rainforest preserve, but for now it is on the table as a possibility for how “going native” might be the wave of the future or the cure for what ails us.

Read more: ECO EWOK TREEHOUSES: Finca Bellavista Rainforest Village Finca Bellavista – Inhabitat – Green Design Will Save the World

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September 28, 2010

The Best Alternative Roofing Materials


It’s possible to be stylish with a roof even while paying attention to the environment

Using “green” materials for a treehouse roof is not a fad. It’s a way of both making a statement and contributing to the overall health of the environment. Using eco-friendly roofing materials may seem like a small gesture, but if every builder made environmentally friendly choices, the benefits in aggregate would be enormous.

Living roof made of plantlife

Roof in bloom

The building industry is taking big steps to help provide builders and designers with more environmentally friendly building options. Hazardous asphalt shingles, for instance, are already a thing of the past. They were a petroleum-derived product that was (and still is) a significant contributor to our landfills. Recycled plastics, fiberglass, and wood are quickly becoming standard in roofing.

Recycled tire roofing made to look like shingles

Recycled Tire Roofing


One of the more exciting developments in green building is the movement to recycle old tires. Tires can be used in its native form or it’s cut into little squares and then coated with granular-sized sand pebbles. The end product is then stacked like any other tile.
Solar powered shingles are also readily available. A great way to help generate power in a treetop dwelling, they usually need a bank of batteries installed to store the power they generate.

As the list of new innovations grow, every builder needs to incorporate them into their constructions. The environment will not be saved by any one large gesture but by a number of very small ones.

A typical shingle roof is a good low-cost option, but there are many alternative roofing materials that literally last forever and have lifetime warranties. Many of these have a raised profile that allows air to circulate beneath them. This helps reduce your air conditioning bills during the summer.

Fire resistance of some alternative roofing materials (tile, concrete, slate, fiber-cement, recycled synthetics) is a plus and required in some areas. This also may reduce your homeowner’s insurance premiums. A burning ember escaping your own chimney can start your or a neighbor’s house on fire.

Fiber-cement is an excellent roofing material. It has a Class A (best) fire rating and has a transferable limited lifetime warranty. It can be formed into almost any shape and colored to simulate other roofing materials.

Fiber cement roofing

Fiber Cement roofing

Fiber-cement roofing is lighter weight than slate, concrete or tile, so you should not have to reinforce the roof structure. An extra lightweight concrete roofing material is also available, but it is not recommended for severely cold climates. Your local roofing contractor can advise you.

A combination of recycled plastics and wood fiber (from scrap pallets) is used to produce simulated cedar shakes and slate. This material has a Class A fire rating, withstands 150-mph wind, and has a 50-year warranty. Other larger recycled plastic roofing panels, which simulate shakes, install quickly.

Concrete is an excellent roofing material and the raw materials are in abundant supply. Similar to fiber-cement, concrete can be molded to simulate other materials. Pigments made from oxides of natural metals are used to color the concrete when it is molded to produce a large array of colors.

April 30, 2010

Treehouses Have Come A Long Way


My friend Alan reminded me that we were first introduced to treehouses in the early seventies when we happened upon a tribe of hippies on the island of Kuaui. We were on a small surfing jag and the last thing we expected to see were people living in the trees. But we rolled with it and went about our business. Here’s some info about the legendary “Taylor Camp”. Check out the documentary when you can.

As Ha‘ena State Park was coming into being with the break-up of the Hui Ku‘ai ‘Aina, actress Elisabeth Taylor’s brother purchased a parcel of coastal land in the area. As Carlos tells it, Howard Taylor went to acquire building permits to construct a home on the property. However, the State would not grant him such a permit, since they were planning to condemn the land. At the same time, however, they insisted that he still pay full taxes on the land. In disgust, Taylor turned the land over to the “flower power people.” Drifting young drop-outs from the outside world came to this piece of land and gradually came to form a makeshift community that took the name “Taylor Camp”…

…”By 1972 there were 21 permanent houses at Taylor Camp. All of them were tree houses since local authorities would not issue them permits for ground dwellings. Some of these structures were quite elaborate indeed, with large bamboo pole foundations, clapboard siding, and windows facing the sea. In addition to the houses in the camp there was a communal shower, an open air toilet, a small church, and even a cooperative store which operated on and off until the camp’s closing…
…”The large amounts of metal and glass trash, and the fact that the garden area of the camp, even during its most intense planting, couldn’t have supported even one-fourth of the residents of Taylor Camp, both suggested to us that the camp, despite its isolation, had to be dependent on a traditional American cash economy.” Pacific Worlds