The Schuylkill Center

Environmental Art Program


North Studio
Elijah Huge & Angus McCullough

Middletown, CT

Bundalow is built of bamboo sourced from a grower 18 miles from the Schuylkill Center for
Environmental Education. A rapidly renewable and biodegradable product, the bamboo is cut and
bundled to form structural surfaces using off-the-shelf tie-down straps as the primary connection device. The project proposes to use two surfaces constructed in this manner – one as a canopy, the other as a plinth for the sleeping platform – as the core components of the project. The canopy transitions from a surface which reflects the existing topographic conditions to an overhead cover for the sleeping platform. Bundalow interprets shelter as a careful modulation of two topographies: the ground and the tree canopy. The structure seeks to facilitate specific activities (sleeping, sitting, watching) without precluding a direct visual and experiential relationship with the site as a whole. Drawing attention to the ways in which canopy and ground are experienced, rather than by producing an architectural interior or a space that is distinct and divided from the ground beneath it or the canopy above it, Bundalow facilitates an immersive experience on the site.


Digsau & The Challenge Program

Philadelphia, PA and Wilmington, DE

This pavilion, the Cocoon, transforms with the diurnal clock (with the assistance of willing explorers and campers) to serve two specific programmatic functions. During the day, it fosters organization and socialization as a place to convene small groups for instruction or direction; at night, the solid walls provide a sense of shelter and safety while the transparent roof heightens the sense of sleeping under the stars. The Cocoon shall be built primarily of salvaged timbers by young adults enrolled in an urban program providing skills and life training to at-risk youth, and shall implement techniques of natural ventilation and storm water management.
A series of elevated platforms serve as seating during the day and as sleeping bunks during the night. Operable wall panels transform the shelter from daytime auditorium to night sky observation deck.

Pram Camp

Tackett & Company

Philadelphia, PA

Pram Camp is a serious whimsical answer to the call for more sustainable living techniques
and processes in the post-waste world. In small groups the children of a new generation can
learn about ready access to nature's energy by interaction and demonstration.
Familiar references to summer, winter, camping, thermometers and the pram cover are
meant to let the visitor find the hidden natural forces of light, heat, shelter, and ….potability.
The thermal mass wall provides summer shade or, (flip the pram cover) winter heat. It also
contains a visible water purification system, composting buckets, and herbs. Large
thermometers let the visitor see the internal temperature rise as the winter sun warms the wall
before night fall. The massive wall provides warmth, shade, food, water and waste management, all passively. The pram cover transforms the shelter from winter to summer use by the actions of the visitors. Clear bottles, thermometers, movable covers, lift-out compost buckets, and open sided containers make it apparent to the visitor the work that nature is doing on her own.

Scrapwood Shells

Rob Corser

Seattle, WA

The Scrapwood Shell is a construction system for small shelters designed to highlight the re-use of scrap lumber, and to explore the sculptural beauty and structural efficiency of thin-shell curved forms. Digitally designed to maximize the use of the scrap lumber while minimizing weight, the Scrapwood Shells employ cutting-edge tools and techniques in innovative ways. But the project is also intended to serve as a community based service-learning opportunity in which students and
community members in both Seattle and Philadelphia can be brought together to learn about recycling and green construction through direct participation in a series of events crucial to the shelters’ design and construction. To enhance environmental awareness, the landscape proposal for the Scrapwood Shelters calls for planting a small learning grove of native species typically used in wood lumber production.

Shelter_Wings (gro-wing)

Tonic Design
David Hill & Vincent Petrarca

Raleigh, NC

Our design proposes that an urban woodland shelter prototype can amplify the experience of site-specific natural phenomena. The shelters offer a model for sustainable design and construction practices and celebrate the poetic qualities of temporal natural forces.
Shelter_Wings employs biomorphic formal strategies and simple materials to create a place of prospect and refuge. The formal quality of the shelter is inspired by the dragonflies and butterflies local to the area. The canted walls, acting as wings, create a sheltered semi-enclosed space which opens to framed views of the site. Shelter_Wings acts as an armature for nature. Native vines are encouraged to grow on this structure which is a simple metal mesh applied to the frame. The vines create shade and promote the green wall concept integrating the building with the site as it appears to grow from the earth. The planted walls celebrate native species, create habitat for insects and birds, and absorb rainwater.

(Un) Tree House

Ana Bismarck & Vera Almada

Lisbon, Portugal

A house built on close to a tree or tree cluster, from witch one has a bird view of the world, built in trees or elevated above hazards at ground level built on ground level to experience nature, in every scale and point of view, both macro and micro scale, bird, rabbit and ant views of the world.
This (un)tree house box frames the surrounding ‘tree world’. Here your view of the trees, birds, dirt/earth and bugs is either framed or magnified so that you might, for a brief moment, really see these microcosmos. Unlike a traditional tree house this one keeps you on ground level. The purpose is to plunge you in the insect’s world as well as frame the tree’s and ground plants existence as living beings. It is a shelter from rain and wind but as you are intended to feel nature, it doesn’t completely insulate the wind, temperature or sound. When inside facing the tree through the ‘frame window’, because the floor is tilted, you stand against the wall where there are lower windows looking down at the earth ground, through the magnifying glasses.