why are we called Arbor Architects?

Having recently launched our new practice, a lot of people have asked us about the name we have chosen and what it means to us. We’re delighted about this of course, because apart from giving us the chance to crack a joke about our alphabetical position in directory listings (its better than its sounds, honestly), it gives us a chance to explain our design ethos and our passion for sustainable architecture…

The word Arbor in our name comes from the Latin term for tree. We both share a fascination and vast appreciation for trees; not least as beautiful, evocative elements of the natural world. The gnarled trunk of a 400 year old oak tree, the dappled light falling through the leafy branches of a chestnut tree or the wind rustling through a silver birch copse can all enhance the senses and have a restorative effect on us. But we also admire trees for their regenerative eco systems and we think trees can provide us with many of the answers to the challenges we face as a result of a rapidly changing climate.

One challenge of course, will be changing conventional construction methods en masse to meet the government’s net zero carbon targets…. although this certainly won’t be the only challenge the industry faces. It will also need to adapt to issues such as extreme weather events, resource depletion and habitat destruction.

The buildings we need to design therefore, will respond effectively to seasonal climates; store carbon within their structure; harvest energy from the natural environment; support biodiversity and decompose naturally at the end of their life.

The good news is that a single tree does all these things naturally!

Collectively, of course, trees offer even more advantages. They can filter water, prevent land erosion, clean the air, nourish the soil and more recently it has been discovered that trees can communicate and support one another via fungal networks along their root systems.

So for us, understanding more about tree’s and learning from the eco systems within woodlands is key to helping us address the challenges of climate change and building sustainable and supportive communities.

Fundamentally, trees are not just ‘neutral’ in their environment, as we might argue a carbon neutral building would be, they are positively impacting on their environment in a regenerative way. We feel that buildings of the future need to be regenerative, supporting biodiversity, generating clean energy and ultimately decomposing naturally to nourish new life at the end of theirs.

In a nutshell, this is why the name Arbor Architects felt right for us – we look forward to growing into it!