While treehouses are every child’s secret dream, modern takes on micro homes among treetops can also add much-needed living space to crowded cities. The following six treehouses bring city and nature together – and delight our grown-up hearts.
Aluminum box among the treetops
In the Berlin suburb of Zehlendorf, the hustle and bustle of metropolitan life gives way to a slow, serene pace: Magnificent villas, giant chestnut trees, and a plethora of forest lakes set the tranquil scene. Right here, at the interface of city and nature, two new “urban treehouses” are for rent.
Designed by German treehouse specialist Andreas Wenning and erected on a 650-square-meter plot, the aluminum-clad living cubes float four meters above the ground on a wood-covered base with ample room for storage and sauna. Suspended steel stairs lead up to the treehouse living area, placing occupants at eye-level with swaying treetops – and that decisive bit closer to the Berlin sky.
Inside, the two treehouses resemble modern Berlin-Mitte lofts: Eames designer chairs, boxspring bed, excellent sound system and rain shower turn the single 28-square-meter space into a lofty premium hideaway. With their “urban amenities surrounded by nature” appeal, both treehouses excel at bridging the gap between these two disparate realms.
Sky-high cypresses and palm trees shape the hilly cityscape of Los Angeles – and the extremely steep terrain of a plot in the city’s hip Echo Park district. Instead of cutting down these trees, the property’s owners decided to build around them and even include them in their new home.
Simon Storey of Anonymous Architects came up with a treehouse-style residence nesting between the land’s existing trees that embraces the largest specimen: Almost like a statement objet d’art, the expansive cypress now winds its way through the building’s nursery and steel roof.
Beyond incorporating the tree, Storey also elevated the entire building: All rooms reach treetop-height, dispensing with the need for different levels. As an added advantage, the trees’ foliage bathes the home in pleasant shade on hot and sunny days, saving energy through natural air conditioning. No wonder its residents feel like they’re living in an airy eyrie.
The luxury tree retreat
Pippi Longstocking is not the only one who loves hiding inside a hollow tree – South African entrepreneur Graham Paarman took a page out of the children’s novel and tasked Studio Malan Vorster to erect a treehouse for guests on his Cape Town property.
And the seasoned architects turned the Astrid Lindgren’s idea of living in a hollowed tree trunk into a refined luxury retreat: Here, four cylindrical structures rest on and climb up tree-trunk-style steel pillars.
The first floor houses a living and dining area, the second a bath and bedroom, all topped by a roof terrace above the crowns.
Guests sense the natural embrace of the rounded rooms while enjoying fantastic views of the surrounding nature and protection from the elements thanks to wooden slats, weather-proof rusty red Corten steel plates, and sliding glass doors. The resulting space perfectly replicates the notion and appeal of a childhood treetop hideaway: safe, secure, and not quite of this world.
The inside-out home
While most homes have their patio and garden on the outside, this Tokyo residence decided to take these outdoor areas, plants included, all the way inside. To access the courtyard of the white cube planted with indigenous species, you first need to step through a large entrance, then scale a ladder to the first-floor patio (great view included) and the adjacent, open-plan eat-in kitchen.
Mere glass walls serve to separate living space and courtyard; the eye is drawn to the roofs and treetops of the nearby neighborhood. The thoughtful cubist style and unusual floor plan come courtesy of architect Takeshi Hosaka.
And since it was his mission to give both residents and plants plenty of space to breathe and unfold, he already factored in gaps in the roof for the garden’s trees to give them sunshine, rain, and ample scope for future growth.
Vision of a treehouse
“After all, trees are the world’s most popular, tried and tested structures,” de Hullu explains. Large, triple-glazed windows, green walls, and recycled wood turn his Treescrapers into impressive multistory living cubes.
Roof-based solar panels and rain water filters supply residents with energy and water while insects and birds find welcome food and shelter within the visionary houses’ vertical gardens. A sustainable concept in the best possible sense – and one capable of transforming cities into natural oases.
Stackable micro home
DIY treehouses tend to be one-room wooden shacks supported by the trunk and branches of a single tree. And while this is a workable solution, it is rarely a comfortable one.
Under the aegis of Slovenian Ofis Arhitekti, a team of architects decided to develop and design a modern treehouse that is cheap and comfortable enough to double as a permanent residence. Their solution: stackable modular micro units that even work without traditional branch support.
Since these units are based on three differently shaped cubes fashioned from a wooden frame and aluminum panels, the results will never look the same – or boring. And thanks to a starting price of €20,000 as well as a minimum size of 4.30 x 2.50 meters, these innovative units take us a decisive step closer to the dream of our own home in nature.