Universally Accessible Treehouses

Forever Young Treehouses is a corporation that designs treehouses for communities, camps, and organizations with a special emphasis on accessibility for the disabled. Their treehouses are also environmentally-friendly, and incorporate existing trees into the design. Their goal is to have an accessible treehouse in every state. Forever Young's staff will scout the area, inspect the trees, make a custom design, and help to organize local financing and labor. Take a look at some of their projects.


The Pine Tree Society for individuals with disabilities operates Pine Tree Camp in Rome, Maine. Their treehouse was a community project, with donations coming from all over the state. It was built by volunteers, beginning with children who were camping at the site in September of 2007.

Six-year-old Nicholas Alexander of Belgrade was among the group of campers. The first-time camper was proud and excited to be such a special part of the treehouse. But Nicholas's involvement exceeded pounding the first nail. From the beginning of the project, Nicholas and his father, Keith, helped raise money and helped spread the word to their community. All told, Nicholas raised more than $3,000 for the Pine Tree Camp's treehouse.

The treehouse is now complete, and a ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held this spring. (image credit: Erin Rice, Pine Tree Society)


Candlelight Ranch near Austin, Texas provide nature experiences for special needs children and their families. The Candlelight Treehouse was completed in 2004, and stands 19 feet above ground. 155 feet of ramp leads to the 500 square foot play area inside. The ranchers like their treehouse so much, they are planning to build two more! The Reese Foundation won naming rights in 2007 by raising $50,000 for Candlelight Ranch. The treehouse now sports a plaque that says Reese's Treehouse, in memory of Reese Alexandra Gray who was born prematurely and died in 2006.

More treehouses in more places, after the jump.


Camp Victory in Millville, Pennsylvania was founded in 1987 to serve children with debilitating illnesses and disabilities. "Partner groups" use the site for various types of camps through the summer. The Camp Victory Treehouse designed by Forever Young opened in time for the 2007 season. It was funded and built by West Pharmaceutical Services. See a video here.


Cradle Beach in Angola, New York offers summer camps for disabled and disadvantaged children and also rents its facilities to a variety of organizations. An Amish family built their treehouse in four months in 2005.


More and more public parks are building accessible treehouses. The world's first universally accessible community treehouse was built in Oakledge Park in Burlington, Vermont in 2004. Burlington is the home base of Forever Young Treehouses. The project involved hundreds of volunteers and donors, including individuals, corporations, and organizations who came together to construct the 500 square foot treehouse, which is connected to nine living trees.


Everybody's Treehouse was completed in 2007 at Mt. Airy Forest in Cincinnnati, Ohio. Bill Allen of Forever Young talked to the New York Times about it.

Its 160-foot ramp winds among 14 trees (red and white oaks, maples and ash) as it climbs 15 feet to a 2,000-square-foot house with two asymmetrical cedar-shingle roofs that give it a Hansel-and-Gretel look. The structure is made of tongue-and-groove pine boards with an ipê-wood deck and has eight windows; most start 32 inches from the floor, an ideal height for wheelchair occupants. "For a kid in a wheelchair," Mr. Allen said, "it gives a different perspective of what the world looks like, of what a tree looks like, of what a forest looks like."

A stronge collaboration between city officials, sponsors, civic organizations, and construction crews meant this treehouse could be built in record time -only 32 days! HBA Charitable Projects kept a photoblog on the construction of the Mt. Airy Treehouse. It is described as having "one of the most whimsical and complicated roofing systems ever seen". (image credit: Jennifer Johnson)


The accessible treehouse at Nay Aug Park in Scranton, Pennsylvania is perched 150 feet above the wooded valley! The David Wenzel Tree house was built with funds from many corporate and individual donors. It was named for the former mayor of Scranton who lost both legs and his left hand in the Vietnam War. Wenzel worked to promote accessibility in Scranton as mayor, and nationwide as a member of the National Council of Disability. See a video of the treehouse here.


In 2002, Forever Young built a private treehouse for James, a wheelchair-bound 6th grader who was referred by the Vermont chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Local businesses donated materials. The finished house sits 22 feet above the ground and can sleep two. Furnished with a wood stove, it can be used year-round.

Find out more about building an accessible treehouse in your community at Forever Young.

Peter Macdiarmid, Getty Images
Long-Closed Part of Westminster Abbey to Open to the Public for the First Time in 700 Years
The triforium in 2009
The triforium in 2009
Peter Macdiarmid, Getty Images

On June 11, 2018, visitors to London's Westminster Abbey will get a look at a section of the historic church that has been off-limits for 700 years. That’s when the triforium, located high above the abbey floor, will open to the general public for the first time as the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries, according to Condé Nast Traveler.

The 13th-century space, located 70 feet above the nave floor, had previously been used for abbey storage. (One architecture critic who visited before the renovation described it as a “glorified attic.”) After a $32.5 million renovation, it will now become a museum with killer views.

The view from the triforium looking down onto the rest of Westminster Abbey
The view from the triforium looking down toward the ground floor of the abbey
Dan Kitwood, Getty Images

To access the area, which looks out over the nave and altar, architects built a new tower, the abbey’s first major addition since 1745. The 80-foot-tall, window-lined structure will provide brand-new vantage points to look out on surrounding areas of Westminster. Inside the triforium, the windows of the galleries look out onto the Houses of Parliament and St. Margaret’s church, and visitors will be able to walk around the upper mezzanine and look down onto the ground floor of the abbey below.

The museum itself will show off objects from Westminster Abbey’s history, such as a 17th-century coronation chair for Mary II and an altarpiece from Henry III’s reign, when the triforium was first constructed. Oh, and it will also display Prince William and Kate Middleton’s marriage license, for those interested in more modern royal history.

[h/t Condé Nast Traveler]

Steinar Skaar / Statens vegvesen
A Look at One of Norway's Most Beautiful Public Bathrooms
Steinar Skaar / Statens vegvesen
Steinar Skaar / Statens vegvesen

In Norway, beautiful architecture isn’t limited to new museums and opera houses. The country also has some incredible bathrooms, thanks to a program called the National Tourist Routes, which commissions architects to design imaginative, beautiful rest stops and lookout points to encourage travel in some of the country’s more remote areas.

One of the latest projects to be unveiled, as Dezeen alerted us, is a high-design commode in the northern Norwegian municipality of Gildeskål. The newly renovated site located along the Norwegian Scenic Route Helgelandskysten, called Ureddplassen, was recently opened to the public.

Bench seating outside the restroom, with mountains in the background
Lars Grimsby / State Road Administration

A view up the stairs of the amphitheater toward steep mountains
Steinar Skaar / Statens vegvesen

Designed by the Oslo-based designers Haugen/Zohar Architects and the landscape architects Landskapsfabrikken AS, the site includes an amphitheater, a viewing platform, and of course, a beautiful restroom. The area is a popular place to view the Northern Lights in the fall and winter and the midnight sun in the summer, so it sees a fair amount of traffic.

The site has been home to a monument honoring victims of the 1943 sinking of a World War II submarine called the Uredd since 1987, and the designers added a new marble base to the monument as part of this project.

A view of the monument to the soldiers lost in the sinking of the Uredd
Steinar Skaar / Statens vegvesen

Now, travelers and locals alike can stop off the highway for a quick pee in the restroom, with its rolling concrete and glass design, then plop down on the steps of the amphitheater to gaze at the view across the Norwegian Sea. It’s one rest stop you’ll actually want to rest at.

[h/t Dezeen]


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