Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Our relationship with Trees - Super Trees

Trees - Integral part of our life.
Trees have been existent much before the birth of human civilization and throughout history, humans have strived  to establish a special relationship with it. Most times, we are the master of  the tree and occasionally we live in a harmony with them. Architects, Landscape architects and planners use trees to enhance and humanize our cities in all countries. Now a days, with the help of technologies, we even create artificial trees to satsfy our needs and life styles. One example of planting an artificial tree around the nation is by the phone service providers, Verizon, Sprint and At&T companies.

Everyone wants clear network reception to talk and text on mobile phones. In the thickly covered trees and hilly neighborhoods of Los Altos Hills in California, AT&T has come up with 65 feet tall artificial tree with the reception antenna on the top and associated ground equipment at the base, as shown in the photo below. This tree has branches which look like pine tree branches and only serves one purpose. A tall steel pole got replaced with this artificial tree and it is pretty good - look alike.
AT&T Cell Tower/Artificial Tree
But then there are Super Trees, behaving much more like a natural tree, living tree. They are fusion of modern environmental technologies, materials and art.

Super Trees designed for Singapore Gardens by the Bay
These trees are designed by Landscape Architecture firm Grant Associates and Architecture firm Wilkinson Eyre Architects for 54 Hectares (133.4 Acres) for South Bay area in Singapore. The projects consists of  two giant biomes or conservatories (The Flower Dome and the Colud Forest Dome) designed by Wilkinson Eyre Architects, 18 Super Trees (65 feet to 150 feet tall) architectural structures and gardens surrounding the structures. See the photos below:
credit-http://www.grant-associates.uk.com, Craig Sheppard Photography

credit-http://www.grant-associates.uk.com
credit-http://www.grant-associates.uk.com,  Robert Such Photography
They are conceived and created to fulfill many aesthetic and environmental functions.
Each Super tree is comprised of 4 major parts : At the core is a reinforced concrete column which provides water storage system, pipes and other environmental technologies. Around the core a steel frame forms the trunk which flows outward to form a canopy shaped like an inverted umbrella.  These canopies provide shades during day time and at night come alive with lighting and other projected media, adding into dramatic city skyline. The exterior is enclosed with  planting panels, which attaches to the concrete core or the steel skeleton. These panels are holding over 162,900 plants comprising more than 200 species and varieties of orchids, ferns and tropical flowering climbers, creating new trendy but exquisite vertical gardens.

These trees are perfect example of "fantasy come alive". 

Talking about Fantasy so on the side note, I want to mention few words about trees and their influences on different disciplines.
Trees in Stories-Author Tolkien, as a lover of trees often defines his characters as good or evil based on their feelings about trees. Many of the evil peoples in his stories are tree-destroyers.
Trees in Mythology- Trees have played a major role in world's mythologies and religions. 
Banyan tree and Peepal tree are considered holy in Hinduism, Bodhi tree where Budha got his Nirvana or awakening. The tree of life in the book of Genesis is a tree whose fruits give immortality.
Trees in Medicine-The roots, leaves, bark, fruit and blossoms of plants and trees have been used for medicinal purposes since before recorded history. According to World Health Organization, approx. 80 percent of people around the world use herbal medicine in some form for at least some of their health care issues.






Sunday, January 6, 2013

Resolutions for Year 2013 !

Year 2013 - on a serious note !!!!

I am starting 2013 year with serious thoughts, the reason might be of surviving Mayan Calendar's end of the world event or just it is that time of the year. The reasons do not matter but the intent is worth noting and I am going to share with you.

When people are on death bed, counting last few days, what things go in their mind?  I have not spend time with anyone, who is close to dying. But based on some research, I found out that most people in their last days glance the whole life, think about major incidences of their life and experience various types of emotions. When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again. Here are the most common five:   

1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. 
2. I wish I didn't work so hard.
3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier. 
source- (http://www.inspirationandchai.com/Regrets-of-the-Dying.html) and a book
"The Top Five Regrets of the Dying - A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing".

I am taking these into consideration to make my this year's resolution. It might help me to have less regrets when I am on my deathbed.  It sounds very depressing but the resolutions are very upbeat and might make your life rich and satisfying. Let us go in details:

1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. 
I have some ideas and projects, which are hidden in my mind. I am going to select few, which are connected to my dreams and start believing in them. I will put them in action regardless of their scope and validity. I want you to do the same, believe in yourself, your capability and your dreams, big or small; act upon it. 

2. I wish I didn't work so hard.
I am not sure about this. Working hard on the things, I enjoy does not slow me down.  I might regret this on deathbed, but what the heck, I enjoy working hard on the things I love because it puts me in this timeless Flow which eventually makes me happy. So you decide for yourself on this one.

3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.
This one is very critical, 'courage to express', whether it is love, happiness, grudge or anger, you should not bury those emotions in yourself, you should express them, Of course, how you express is extremely important. It is nice to express without harming the involved parties, after all we live in civilized society. !! I am going to express my feelings and I will use various mediums to express those. Yes, the social media is one of those.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
This one is easy but still we do not make it happen. We get busy with our work and life; we do not take time to cherish moments with our friends and family. I am going to spare time and energy for my friends, well wishers and spread love. My work will not neglect the users' perspectives.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier. 
This one is my favorite. First of all, you have to be truthful to yourself, ask hard questions and figure out what makes you happy. Once you figure it out, then it is your choice. It is your life and it is one life ( might be more? ) but you decide how you want to live. I am going to ask hard questions to find out what things, work and people make me happy. I am absolutely not compromising on this and I advice you not to. In this complex, fast moving world, the definition of happiness changes and also, it is hard to know yourself, so taking some time off from busy life to find out the answers would be a nice goal for me.

These resolutions are loosely defined and vary from person to person. But, even thinking about them, now and then, can give some perspective to how you want to live your life.