06 Jan Treehouse Magic
As architects, no doubt many of us have pleasant childhood memories of spending the day perched in a tree, nailing board after board into a makeshift platform and happily calling it home for the night. Our treehouse creations were important experiences that carry strong associations of nature, materials, tools, and comradery, into adulthood.
Some architects have returned to those early childhood days, building elaborate, sometimes multi-story, treehouses for both personal and public use. There’s a quaint treehouse resort on St. John that has been providing an alternative experience to visitors for over twenty years. Another one in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico offers a modern interpretation of treehouse design. Architects Terunobu Fujimori in Japan and Peter Bahouth in Atlanta have built treehouses in their own backyards. Pete Nelson in Seattle, has made a career of treehouse design and construction, including writing several books on the topic.
What is it about treehouses that holds our imagination? It could be the satisfaction we felt as a child with our first finished project that we built with our own hands. Or it might be the experience of a refuge, suspended high among the branches, away from everything but the sound of the birds and the wind. Whatever it is, there's an indelible allure that's immensely gratifying.
Maybe that's why I can't wait for our workshop this spring in Oaxaca, Mexico, where we will be designing and building a treehouse in the foothills of the Sierra Norte mountains outside of Oaxaca City. Working alongside the community, we'll create a new facility to support their eco-tourism goals and give adventure-seeking visitors to Oaxaca yet another reason to come and explore this beautiful area.