Thursday, November 26, 2009

Bamboo Yoga Dome

Together with the Vibe Tribe of Los Angeles headed by Bobby Israel and O2 Treehouse we began construction and development of the bamboo yoga dome. This backyard marvel is situated snugly in the soon to be zened out backyard garden of this Venice community home. With the help of almost 15 volunteers who stopped in intermittently throughout the day to help create the bamboo split frame work the its nautilus like shape was brought to life within hours. There are still many tweaks that need to be done to it says Bobby including a illumine-scent canopy, a maple floor made of recycled gym floors, and possibly some led lighting around the floor edge.

Once it is complete a notice will be sent out to the neighborhood inviting them to take part in weekly yoga gatherings. Visionary community builder extraordinaire Bobby Isreal believes there should be more activities that bring neighbors together and create a strengthened sense of place within their community. Yoga gatherings is just the start.

On the Building
The frame was constructed using roughly 35 - 40' bamboo splits. The splits range in width between two and three inches wide and can withstand extreme dynamic bending nearly 3' in radius. The splits are woven together in a basket weave style which brings surprising strength once the structure is filled out enough. The process is quite entertaining as the team weaving the splits, usually consisting of about 6 people, must yell out a cadence that is kin to chants from a pro tug of war team. In this case your competition is intense friction from the rubbing of the bamboo splits. With credits to the Bamboo DNA team ours consisted of a sharp "yup yup" for go forward and "back back" for reverse. We will have video footage up soon if your curiosity has been captured. Keep an eye out for future posts on the Bamboo Yoga Dome as we move the project forward.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


A tipi (also te(e)pee) is a conical tenttraditionally made of animal skins or birch bark and popularised by Native Americans of the Great Plains. The tipi was durable, provided warmth and comfort in winter, was dry during heavy rains, and was cool in the heat of summer. Tipis could be disassembled and packed away quickly when a tribe decided to move and could be reconstructed quickly when the tribe settled in a new area.

The word "tipi" comes into English from the Lakota Language the word tʰípi consists of two elements: the verb tʰí, meaning "to dwell", and a pluralising enclitic (a suffix-like ending that marks the subject of the verb as plural), pi, and means "they dwell". Lakota verbs can be used as nouns and this is the case with tʰípi, which in practice just means "house".

Currently we are in our 7 week on the Brentwood Tipi build or what has now been coined the Treepi. Our first 4 weeks in construction took place in Santa Ana CA at our temporary pre fab location in a back lot rented from Graphical Dimensions. Now in our third week of on site installation the structure is nearly complete. Today we will be making the finishing touches on the entry ladder and trap door. The soon to be installed canopy will reach 25' into the upper branches of the tree and surround this two foot diameter Canadian Pine and extend over the walls of the 14' diameter platform.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Wired Magazine has published a full page on O2 Treehouse and our latest creation. The 20' diameter (1-4) deltoid reticulation. Consisting of 210 openings and 420 facets. Each opening is constructed from an individual tapered deltoid created of 1 x 6 red wood. The custom diamond and printed floor is created from cut-offs from the deltoid construction. Read more for a detail explanation of triumphs and tribulations of how it came to be!

I used 3/16" steel hubs with flanges welded together in the center. These had to be very very accurate to match the deltoid tapered constructions. We had a problem with the welding because after each weld was made when it cooled it pulled the flange out of position. We were able to correct this by creating a jig and putting the hub in a vice and custom bending each flange back into position using a template as a guide.

I created each deltoid as a separate unit ( a construction technique I will never attempt again. It gave me the all wood joint center that I so desired and created a beautiful reveal between each shape ( thickness of the hub flange ) but was quite a task. I wanted to farm out the the wood cutting to a cnc house but most shops gave me a stink bid because it was to complicated for them to want to wrap their heads around and to great a possibility for error. The only shop of which I found that had the proper equipment was a boat building company. Lucky for me I was constructing it in Huntington Beach CA. In the end it was me and one solid week of cutting on the finest digital chop saw I could find. I created 19 custom jigs. Each jig had a 1/2" pin on it which corresponded to the whole in the wooden plank. I cut both angles of the compound angle simultaneously. I batched each individual plank of course so I could do the whole structure's worth of that particular board. Even with the jigs and the digital gage it still took constant checking and a keen eye on the woods edge. A 1/6th off was unacceptable because as you know these errors compound.

I then hired a team of assemblers. We glued, air nailed, and screwed every joint at a prefab location. Then we packed everything up and shipped to site. The floor structure was created around the tree first which transfers the load of the sphere into the ground directly around the trunk. The floor structure has a center girdle that has telescopically rods that press against the tree with a soft wood foot. Once this was secure we stared assembly of the sphere around the floor structure by cabling into the hubs in about 30 places before we crested the edge of the floor. From this point on it was easier construction standing on the deck until we started coming in contact with tree limbs. I usually take the wait and see approach with limbs and have gotten lucky with this technique even throughout this build. No joint customization took place it all slipped, barely, through the structure. We fought gravity througout the entire process constantly fighting the structure together. Parts that needed to come together which looked impossible did eventually come round with some coaxing.

It was amazing when we put the last piece on, the pumpkin top. It dropped right in! To our glory and amazement all the bolts dropped in as well. It was an incredible amount of work don't get me wrong but sweet to see it all come together. The floor is constructed using all the scrap cut offs from the sphere creation which was a nice touch for the interior. We dropped as many cables as we could into the top supported via upper branches. Hopefully this will fight gravity enough to keep the joints from settling over time. The structure is treated and sealed with three coats of a five year warranty sealer.

I considered it a great honor to be asked to be featured on one of the most well respected Architectural blogs in Germany.

"We´d like to publish a short article about the Treehouse on the DETAIL website. As we´d like to illustrate the text for our readers it would be great if you can send us some pictures as an e-mail attachment."

Checki it out!

Weimar - 90 Years of Treehouses

I received an invitation for a treehouse exhibition in Wiemar Germany the other day. The exhibition will show images, films, and 3-d objects of the past 90 Years of Treehouses throughout the world. I am very excited to be part of a show over 4,000 miles from my present location. There will be several prints of O2 Treehouse's latest structures on display in the gallery until March 2010. If anyone would like to fly me out for the opening of the show I do not mind making room in the schedule.


Where to begin... I have a lot of catching up to do so I've decided to start where I left off and cover all of the past news worthy happenings in chronological order with a light peppering of text and imagery. Eat this content up folks its delicious!