The Oculus is Innocuous

A small structure with low energy and a big impact.

The Oculus was built off-grid with over half of the materials brought in on bikes by the build crew.

After experiencing great acclaim for the Crystal River Tree House in 2004, Green Line Architects of Carbondale, CO had set aim on something much more foresighted for 2015. Tree houses, by and large, are a novelty. They don’t last any longer than the tree they are settled in, they are tremendously inefficient from a building operations standpoint and not to mention very inaccessible, think ADA. Green Line wanted to look carefully at the today and the future of architecture.


A Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) showed that over a fifty year life-span The Oculus will consume less than half of the energy than that of a regular dwelling. 

In the future, our building codes will be modified as dramatically as our medicinal and agricultural practices, organic and holistic will rule. Our building materials will be stamped with a nutritional facts statement including the method of extraction, the material content, the transportation impacts and the application and procedural guidelines. In the future, people will ask, “have you seen your local architect this month?” After all, our three basic needs include food, water and shelter.


The (LCA) includes the types of materials used in the building, their recycled content, how far they traveled and how they were extracted.

    The environmental movement is shifting. It has become an issue about human survival on this planet as opposed to simply the protection of the environment. We now know that if we don’t regulate or land use and resource management, this planet will shake us off like water on a wet dog. In the future, humans will either perish, or learn to become part of the natural system. 


The Oculus requires very little energy on a daily basis, with solar electric, solar in-floor radiant heating, an overhang for shade in the summer and glass on the sun-facing side for winter warmth. 

    Products are created all around the world, and the earth is where the materials comes from, someone may say that the world has a restorative power and that no matter what we do, we will not play a role in it’s events, as if the world is on a different timeline or pattern. Which is true, in terms of the existence of the planet compared to the existence of our societies. But in terms of the relationship that we have right now, that relationship that we have with nature and the earth is inextricably linked to now and everything else living right now. We must consider our relationship to nature as a life giving force.


The entire build was filmed for a 1-hour TV special called Building Off-Grid: Rocky Mountains. 

    Products can be created in one of two ways, manufactured or crafted. Think leather, someone might say that leather is bad, bad for the environment and otherwise, maybe they have seen videos of production farms. On the other hand, there is a native in his cave at the dawn of time, using tools to benefit from every single piece of his kill, creating clothing and fabrics out of the hides. Still they are linked, linked to the natural system, animals, humans, very different in their actions but doing the same thing. Life is a natural force, but it can be mechanized, or organized, always relative to the other pieces, bad input results in bad output.

Oh yeah, the building is also a bike ramp..

See more about this project at; & GreenLine Architects

Watch the TV show for $2.99 in HD at; YouTube

Photos by; Brent Moss

Furniture by; Brad Reed Nelson

Text by me, Rob, you can reach me at