BIOPHILIA TREEHOUSE | UCLA, School of Arts and Architecture, Design Media Arts, In association with CounterForce Lab | LA COUNTY GOAL # 5: “Thriving ecosystems, habitats and biodiversity.”

BIOPHILIA TREEHOUSE is an initiative to create avian wildlife corridors throughout Los Angeles County, with resting, feeding and nesting sites at strategically placed geographic locations for the dual purpose of serving an abundance of birds as well as humans, for whom the sites will offer respite for reconnecting with the natural world. The birds’ ecology is the primary shaping force of the design for “living sculptures” that foster holistic ecosystems and interspecies friendships, and serve as hotspots of biodiversity in park-poor areas and underserved communities.

We are focusing on birds because they are indicators of the overall health of an ecosystem. Goal # 5 is vital because urbanization and climate change are threatening the region’s ecosystems, habitats, and biodiversity. LA county is the birdiest county in the U.S. and yet, the County is also home to the largest set of threatened and endangered animals and plants in the country. There is great loss of green space for birds and Angelinos alike, especially in poor, underserved and under-resourced communities. Biophilia Treehouse addresses this environmental inequity. 

“Biophilia” means the love of living things. As bird lovers, we honor them by building Biophilia Treehouses, which are lush, vibrant, tree-like living sculptures that soar into the sky, inviting an abundance of birds to co-create places where they can rest, feed, nest and, in essence, make them a recurring home. These scalable, lightweight structures hold a myriad of native plants and are also places for Angelenos to contemplate, observe and reconnect to nature. 

Biophilia Treehouses need community commitment to nurture and maintain. In partnering with local public schools, these structures will foster opportunities for hands-on education. We imagine Biophilia Treehouses everywhere across Los Angeles. Our goal is to make our design available to community members who, with the help of student volunteers, will be inspired to collaborate in building and growing biophilia treehouses throughout the County. 

Team: Rebeca Mendez, Project Lead, Professor, Design Media Arts, Founder, CounterForce Lab; Alvaro Azcarraga, MFA candidate in Design Media Arts; Erin Cooney, MFA candidate in Design Media Arts; Eleanor Diamant, Ph.D. candidate in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology; Maru García, MFA Transdisciplinary artist + researcher; Andrew Gonzalez, MA Candidate in Architure; Sana Jahani, MA candidate in Architecture; Wonho Lee, Undergraduate Student in Design Media Arts; Yogan Muller, Ph.D. Visiting Lecturer, Design Media Arts; Charles Hood, Pando expert.

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