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-, Craig Sheppard Photography

credit-,  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.

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