Bridging the current gap between design and ecology is not always easy, but neither does it have to be complicated. Using two recycled shipping containers and off-site prefabrication of interiors and building components, this "Two-Tree House" by Tel-Aviv's Golany Architects is carefully constructed around two mature Jerusalem pines on the site, allowing a simple merging of human habitat with the existing trees.
Thanks to a small site, the architects decided to examine the trees as part of the design process. By building around them, their continued growth is respected, through openings in the timber decks and the roof. Prior to on-site construction, steps were taken to ensure the trees' preservation, such as prefabrication, since local construction methods heavily favored heavy masonry, another method was needed to better protect the trees.
[The house] was constructed by applying prefabrication wherever possible, with all the interior finishes, insulation and structure completed off-site.
It was brought to the site fully prepared to serve as a dwelling. The timber cladding, light roof over steel ceiling, stone work, and decks were designed in advance, and were complimented by works on site, after the house was inhabited.
From this approach, the house is understood as a living organism or system of sorts, which depends on the trees for shade and natural regulation of temperature, in addition to the use of timber cladding on the shipping containers to lower the house's internal temperature.
Though it may entail a little more maintenance, in choosing to integrate the existing trees into the design, rather than cutting them down to make more square footage, the house's inhabitants gain an advantage of shade and enjoyment for years to come -- a simple but smart strategy. More over at Golany Architects.