The Mechanical Elevator

Initially I considered a ramp that complied with Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) § 4.8: with railings, a slope of no more than 1:12, and flat landings for each 30 inches (760 mm) of rise. With these requirements, this ramp would need to be nearly 160 feet (48 meters) long including five 5' (1.5m) landings just to reach the first level. To achieve this in a single 360° sweep, it would need to be about 25' (8m) from the center of the Temple, placing it at the outermost reach of the branches.

So as an alternative, I thought of a mechanical elevator to permit participants to lift and lower others. Instead of using winches or electric motors, the idea is for it to operate entirely on counterweights. The permanent counterweights would be installed so the car comes to rest at the first level of the Temple (top). That way someone could use it without assistance in the case of an emergency. To raise the lift, participants would act as human counterweights on a smaller side-car to hoist the main car to the first level.

To avoid the cars moving too quickly, a mechanical governor would limit the speed of travel both ways. By keeping the system largely mechanical, I figure I can avoid failures of higher-tech solutions.

In the end, I know this is not ideal as it doesn't offer complete access: the lift would permit any participant to reach the first level but not the second.

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I took a few pictures of trees to get an idea of how they look, and some elements of branches and whatnot that I thought would work. I did my best to draw some sketches, but I'm not particularly adept at it and I didn't like what came of it. I got together with two friends: Antoni, a sculptor, and Brandon, an architect to talk about the project. Overall it wasn't too productive, but at least it was a start.

One thing I think is important is to have a spiral ramp—not stairs or ladders—to access the main level. I don't understand why it needs to be a spiral, but it needs to be a ramp to permit people with limited mobility to access it.

It also needs an interior space—a sanctuary for ceremonies and reflection. The yurt provides this. It also helps the stability, since a real tree of such size would have a substantial root structure to anchor it; an artificially-wide trunk would mitigate the instability in absence of such a root structure.

September 29, 2012 Sketch, side
Side view.
Top view.
Top view.

Toni encouraged me to start making models using toothpicks as, say, 8' framing members and see what I could come up with. He suggested we make a 1/6 scale model (e.g. "Barbie size") and burn it, say, on the Solstice: December 21.

Yesterday's sketches.
Yesterday's sketches.

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