This Post is About School, But I Promise It’s Not Boring. In Fact…It’s Awesome.

Ok, I know you may be asking yourself, “what the hell is this girl posting about?” So, let me preface this post my introducing myself a little!

Hi, my name is Bonnie! I’m a new blogger here on Appalachian Trials! I will be thru-hiking next year in 2015 after I graduate with my Masters Degree In Architecture from the University of South Florida. In August I will be starting my 8-month masters thesis project, and I’ve been thinking long and hard about what I want to dedicate my last year in architecture school to, and this is it!

I’ve always wanted to incorporate nature into not only my projects, but my life. I’ve always loved camping and hiking, and I told myself I have to incorporate these passions somehow into my thesis. Actually, researching my thesis is what got me into learning about the Appalachian Trail and ultimately, what got me interested in hiking it. Artificial light has also been a strong interest of mine in all my projects, and I’ve become interested in the way artificial light (specifically, colored light) can effect our emotions, comfort level, and can even effect us physiologically. Then I thought, what if I merge these 2 ideas together?!

Tree House Architecture, Artificial Lighting, and the Opportunity for Comfort on the Appalachian Trail

Tree house architecture has evolved significantly in the last decade, and the possibility of this typology on the Appalachian Trail could boast many perks for hikers. Imagine finishing up a 25-mile hike through rocky terrain, cold rain, and constant elevation changes to reach your shelter for the night.

You stumble upon this….


Instead of this…



And for some reason, you are completely enthralled and excited to rest in such a beautiful shelter (you feel this way because architecture, in fact, does effect you more than you may know)! Within this tree house shelter lies many attractive comforts you haven’t found in previous shelters. You’re sleeping 10-30 feet off the ground, away from bears and moisture. You can’t help feeling like a kid in this place, and you climb from top to bottom exploring the different layers and levels just like you did in those ridiculous plastic tube mazes at Chuck E Cheese’s when you were little. You look against one of the walls and….wait, is that a thermostat? Why yes! It’s a light thermostat. If you’re feeling cold, turn it up to red or orange. Feeling hot, then turn it down to blue. It may sound completely ridiculous, but colored light can actually profoundly change your perception of temperature. “But Bonnie, where would the electricity come from for these lights?” Well, I’ve got some ideas that I need to research more and possibly even try to make something, but I saw a girl in middle school on Jimmy Fallon showing off her flashlight that she invented. It runs off the heat of your hand (immediately after I saw this, I started wondering what the hell I was doing with my life). What else could I create that runs off of body heat? Perhaps a built-in sleeping pad that gathers your heat? Hmmmmm….I gotta think about this some more.

Anyway, I thought I would share with everyone my thoughts for my thesis, because I would love some feedback, suggestions, or ideas! What would you love to see in a tree house on the Appalachian Trail? Are tree houses a good or bad concept for shelters along the AT? If so, why? Would anyone like to help me pursue actually building a new shelter along the AT (because that would be friggin’ awesome if you do, there would be no way I could fail my thesis if I actually built something). Please, leave comments below! I greatly appreciate it!!!

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