A tree house is every child’s dream: an “unreachable” refuge from adults, another world, enclosed and intimate, which represents solitude and protection. Films have shown us several examples: from the simple branch of Tarzan to the evocative suspended Ewok village in Return of the Jedi and the mega-city of Avatar on the planet Pandora.
Over the last few years, however, the myth has increasingly become a reality. With the growth of ecotourism, tree houses have become a new trend in hospitality (Airbnb offers more than 300 in Europe alone). Thus, the joyful memories of childhood are revived and adapted to a very high level of comfort and design. Trees become bio-ecological refuges in touch with nature, designed for contemplation and rest, and highly compatible with the environment and the landscape.
This elegant combination has succeeded perfectly at Treehotel in Harads in the north of Sweden. The owners offer quality designer accommodation in a place where stress disappears and you can relax surrounded by unspoilt nature. They contracted leading Swedish architects who designed seven tree houses, each one different from the rest (the latest one, designed by the prestigious firm Snøhetta, arrived in January this year).
“A very important part of our concept is to respect ecological values and achieve the least possible environmental impact,” explain the founders Britta and Kent Lindvall. The topic of tree houses involves quality design choices that consider the sense of limit and compatibility as constituent elements of their design. Two apparently contradictory trends are found in the Treehotel houses: camouflage and contrast.
Thus, Mirrorcube and The Bird’s Nest make invisibility their signature style. The first is a cube with four-metre sides completely covered in reflective glass on which the sky, the trees, and everything around it become the materials. The second is a huge spherical nest made of branches which conceal an ultra-modern interior that is accommodating and comfortable. In contrast, we find The Dragonfly: a series of rectangular boxes positioned horizontally to create a distinct break with the verticality of the pine forest and emphasise human intervention in the natural environment.
These tree houses occupy the borderline between contemporary culture and the search for an unspoilt natural environment, combining tradition, modernity, dreams, and practicality. They give us back a bit of our childhood while looking towards the future.
Photos: courtesy Threehotel / treehotel.se + Tham &
Videgård Arkitekter + Snøhetta