Our team approached the design of the Treehouse with two primary concerns: first, that the space should embrace and encourage the playful and informal qualities intrinsic to camping out, and second, that the structure should account for the changing nature of the forest site. We felt that it was particularly important that our design and its connection points with the forest itself should take into account, and allow for, the natural processes and the growth of the trees.
The Treehouse is to be a permanent fixture within the site, however, we were inspired in our design by the notion of the temporary dwelling, as the space was only to be inhabited by particular visitors for a night at a time. We felt that the use of a pitched roof would function as a signifier for the unique experience of sleeping (nearly) outdoors, as it references a classic A-Frame tent. The adventurous, temporal, and playful qualities of the tent will be experienced by the visitors in the use of our Treehouse as well, and gives it its unique tetrahedron form. Additionally, the A-Frame window in our design will nicely frame the surrounding forest views from within. Its height and dimension reference the formal qualities of the surrounding trees, allowing the visitor to see more of the forest than a typical window frame. In order to ensure privacy for the visitors, the window is at a slight angle back, inhibiting sight from the exterior forest floor to the interior, while at the same time allowing more sunlight into the space.
The Treehouse is located between 3 trees on the site and it is suspended at three pinned points. The design utilizes a triangular light-wood-frame structure, which is not only a structurally efficient form, the discrete connection points also give the structure the sense that it is nearly floating in the air. These pinned points are attached to the tree using the ‘Garnier Limb’, a system designed in collaboration with engineers and arborists. This system has been used by Treehouse designers for several decades and was never patented in order to encourage its use and the continued design of dwellings in trees. The ‘Garnier Limb’ connects to the tree with only one penetration, affecting the strength of the tree less than other methods and with less invasion and damage to the living tree. The metal bolt inserted into the trunk of the tree is further strengthened by the compression strength of the tree grain and as the tree’s girth increases and envelopes the bolt over time. This bolt is fitted with a bracket, which allows the Treehouse structure to move independently from the tree, preventing damage to the Treehouse as the tree grows.
The dimensions of the Treehouse platform leave space for two guests to comfortably sleep, as well as room for sitting. The glazed opening is oriented away from the adjacent buildings, to increase privacy and views of the forest. Access to the interior is from a set of retractable stairs that extend down, hovering just above the forest floor. Users are able to extend and collapse the retractable stairs as needed for security and convenience. We chose to use light coloured materials, such as white fiberglass reinforced concrete panels and silvered wood to help enhance the floating and light quality of the structure.
Software used: AutoCAD, Cinema4D, Photoshop
In collaboration with Kelsy Whitten and Adrian Nocos