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Treehouses for All Occasions

There's something about a treehouse that appeals to all of us. Maybe it's the view, or getting close to nature, or reliving childhood memories. There are many ways to enjoy treehouses, no matter what age you are.

A Treehouse Protest

Beginning in 1997, Julia Butterfly Hill spent two years in a treehouse, 180 feet up in a tree named Luna to protest old-growth logging. Her treehouse was only a 6x8 foot tent, but she had plenty of visitors and conducted interviews via cellphone. Luna was estimated to be somewhere between 600 and 1,000 years old! Hill's protest drew the support of Earth First! and other environmental organizations. Hill finally came down from the tree on December 18, 1999 when Pacific Lumber Company agreed to spare the tree and a three-acre buffer area. In 2001, the tree was damaged by someone with a chain saw who cut a 32-inch deep gash around the trunk. Guy wires were added for support, and the tree survives today.

The Treehouse as Art

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The Steampunk Tree House is a 30-foot-tall interactive work of art first exhibited at Burning Man. It is made of recycled wood and metal, and outfitted with steam pipes, which can exude puffs of steam when needed. There are solar panels included, which power LED lights. The Steampunk Tree House will appear at the Coachella 2008 music festival next weekend and the Stagecoach music festival in May, both in Indio, California.

Hotels

Sanya Nanshan
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You can find treehouse hotels all over the world. Sanya Nanshan Treehouse Resort and Beach Club offers four treehouses as vacation rentals near the beach near Nanshan Mountain in south China.

The Tree Houses Hotel
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The Tree Houses Hotel is a bed and breakfast in Costa Rica, in the rain forest near Arenal Volcano.

Cedar Creek Treehouse
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Cedar Creek Treehouse at Mt. Ranier in Washington is a cabin 50 feet high in a giant cedar tree. Climb a spiral staircase around a nearby fir tree and cross a swinging bridge and you can see the view from an observatory 100 feet in the air!

Permanent Homes

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If you want to live in a treehouse all the time, there are ways to do it. Finca Bellavista Rainforest Village is a permanent community of treehouses at the base of a rain forest mountain in Costa Rica. The goal of the community is to preserve rain forest acreage and promote sustainable living arrangements.

Grownup Retreats

Treehouse Teahouse
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Japanese professor of architecture Terunobu Fujimori built his boyhood dream in his father's garden in 2004. It's a teahouse on stilts! They call it the "Too High Teahouse".

Free Spirit Spheres
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You don't have to build your own treehouse. There are several companies who will do it for you. Free Spirit Spheres will deliver a ready-made pod to your forest and install it safely.

For Kids

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Kevin McKinney built a treehouse for his two daughters on top of an 8 foot wide Giant Redwood stump. The house has a cantilevered porch, observation deck, sink, closet, and interior stalactites!

Ground Level Tree Bar

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A Baobab tree in Limpopo, South Africa is so big that it's been made into a bar! The tree has a 155-foot circumference and is hollow. The bar can seat 15 people comfortably, and once held 54 people (although not comfortably). Baobabs begin to hollow out at about a thousand years of age; this tree is estimated to be 6,000 years old. When owners Doug and Heather van Heerden set up the pub in the late eighties, they found artifacts indicating that Bushmen and Dutch pioneers had been inside, and had possibly lived in the tree.

Tree Tent

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The Treepee is a tent that hangs from a tree! You can use it as a trampoline that you can't fall out of (unless you leave the door open), or a swing. Tether the corners to the ground for more stability. If you hang it high, use the pulley that comes with it to haul up provisions. The floor is much softer than the ground, for either sleeping or sitting.

This is just an overview of different kinds of treehouses. You can see quite a few more in the articles Incredible Treehouses and Universally Accessible Treehouses.

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Courtesy of Fernando Artigas
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architecture
Step Inside This Stunning, Nature-Inspired Art Gallery in Tulum, Mexico
Courtesy of Fernando Artigas
Courtesy of Fernando Artigas

Upon closer inspection, this building in Tulum, Mexico, doesn’t seem like a suitable place to house an art exhibit. Everything that makes it so visually striking—its curved walls, uneven floors, and lack of drab, white backgrounds—also makes it a challenge for curators.

But none of these factors deterred Santiago Rumney Guggenheim—the great-grandson of the late famed art collector and heiress Peggy Guggenheim—from christening the space an art gallery. And thus, IK LAB was born.

“We want to trigger the creative minds of artists to create for a completely different environment,” Rumney Guggenheim, the gallery’s director, tells Artsy. “We are challenging the artists to make work for a space that doesn’t have straight walls or floors—we don’t even have walls really, it’s more like shapes coming out of the floor. And the floor is hardly a floor.”

A view inside IK LAB
Courtesy of Fernando Artigas

A view inside IK LAB
Courtesy of Fernando Artigas

A view inside IK LAB
Courtesy of Fernando Artigas

A view inside IK LAB
Courtesy of Fernando Artigas

IK LAB was brought to life by Rumney Guggenheim and Jorge Eduardo Neira Sterkel, the founder of luxury resort Azulik. The two properties, which have a similar style of architecture, share a site near the Caribbean coast. IK LAB may be unconventional, but it certainly makes a statement. Its ceiling is composed of diagonal slats resembling the veins of a leaf, and a wavy wooden texture breaks up the monotony of concrete floors. Entry to the gallery is gained through a 13-foot-high glass door that’s shaped a little like a hobbit hole.

The gallery was also designed to be eco-conscious. The building is propped up on stilts, which not only lets wildlife pass underneath, but also gives guests a view overlooking the forest canopy. Many of the materials have been sourced from local jungles. Gallery organizers say the building is designed to induce a “meditative state,” and visitors are asked to go barefoot to foster a more sensory experience. (Be careful, though—you wouldn't want to trip on the uneven floor.)

The gallery's first exhibition, "Alignments," features the suspended sculptures of Artur Lescher, the perception-challenging works of Margo Trushina, and the geometrical pendulums of Tatiana Trouvé. One piece by Trouvé features 250 pendulums suspended from the gallery's domed ceiling. If you want to see this exhibit, be sure to get there before it ends in September.

[h/t Dezeen]

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Engineers Have Figured Out How the Leaning Tower of Pisa Withstands Earthquakes
iStock
iStock

Builders had barely finished the second floor of the Tower of Pisa when the structure started to tilt. Despite foundational issues, the project was completed, and eight centuries and at least four major earthquakes later, the precarious landmark remains standing. Now, a team of engineers from the University of Bristol and other institutions claims to have finally solved the mystery behind its endurance.

Pisa is located between the Arno and Serchio rivers, and the city's iconic tower was built on soft ground consisting largely of clay, shells, and fine sand. The unstable foundation meant the tower had been sinking little by little until 2008, when construction workers removed 70 metric tons of soil to stabilize the site. Today it leans at a 4-degree angle—about 13 feet past perfectly vertical.

Now researchers say that the dirt responsible for the tower's lean also played a vital role in its survival. Their study, which will be presented at this year's European Conference on Earthquake Engineering in Greece, shows that the combination of the tall, stiff tower with the soft soil produced an effect known as dynamic soil-structure interaction, or DSSI. During an earthquake, the tower doesn't move and shake with the earth the same way it would with a firmer, more stable foundation. According to the engineers, the Leaning Tower of Pisa is the world's best example of the effects of DSSI.

"Ironically, the very same soil that caused the leaning instability and brought the tower to the verge of collapse can be credited for helping it survive these seismic events," study co-author George Mylonakis said in a statement.

The tower's earthquake-proof foundation was an accident, but engineers are interested in intentionally incorporating the principles of DSSI into their structures—as long as they can keep them upright at the same time.

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