The effect is astonishing: by using the natural shape of trees rather than milling them into dimensional lumber, the resulting architecture becomes organic and lifelike as if it were a living, breathing and growing structure – though correspondingly more difficult to construct, each custom branch and trunk needing to fit somehow in with the rest.

Aside from the breath-taking eco-aesthetic of his whole-tree houses and homes, Roald Gunderson’s work has a number of benefits for the environment as well as a client’s pocketbook. Time, energy and money are saved by skipping the normal steps of processing raw wood into standard wooden structural sizes. Also, less carbon is released into the air and the naturally curved wood branches are stronger than their straight-and-narrow counterparts.

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Finally, only weak and otherwise unused leftovers of the forest are employed – the invasive or otherwise secondary tree species that would not be milled in the normal course of logging anyway. (Images via NYT Photographer Paul Kelly). In short: what at first seems a more artistic, whimsical and expensive alternative to traditional building techniques is a surprisingly cost-effective, ingenious and eco-friendly method of sustainable home building – a contemporary counterpart to the classic log cabin.