Treeless Treehouse: A "Tornado" of Reclaimed Wood By Roderick Romero

Photos via Jeff Casper

What do you do when you don't have a tree to build a treehouse in? Answer: build a "treeless" treehouse. This is exactly what New York-based artist, musician and treehouse designer Roderick Romero did with a team of friends for this unusual treehouse of 100 percent reclaimed wood, recently built high on a hillside overlooking Bel Air, California. Romero is best known for designing treehouses for celebrities like Sting, Val Kilmer, Julianne Moore and Donna Karan. For this project, he teamed up with master carpenter Ian Weedman (who also works with Seattle's Treehouse Workshop) and designer, carpenter and long-time friend Jeff Casper to complete the structure in less than two weeks during this summer.

View of entry
"Extreme geometry"
Casper writes via email that the treehouse is a "twisting tornado of Forest Stewardship Council (F.S.C.) certified mixed-species reclaimed Brazilian hardwoods", supported by a framework of vintage Douglas fir beams, sourced from Terramai, a recycled timber company. Casper adds that

[t]he location lacked trees mature enough to support a structure of this magnitude, so this cantilevered, inverted octagonal cone of wood was anchored into a deep, cubical-shaped concrete foundation.

To get around this constraint, the team conceived of the structure as a kind of a ship's nest, which is accessed by a hidden opening which leads to a sub-deck, followed by a ladder leading up to a hinged hatch.

Under main deck
Deck spiral detail
Hatch & ladder

The deck's integrated bench is a perfect observation spot of the Los Angeles skyline below.

View from deck

Another interesting feature is the deck's sloped pitch, which Weedman describes as part of the structure's "extreme geometry":

At deck level which varies from 6 to 12 feet above grade (due to a slope) the diameter [of the deck] is 12 feet. Handrails continue up at the 31 degree angle to a final diameter of 15 feet. No vertical posting here. All posts are set at the 31 degree angle.

Under construction; photo by Ian Weedman
Design process & a departure
Romero described to us via phone about how his design process typically begins with photo collage and conceptual watercolors. Though Romero is also known for previous treehouses which also look like "bird's nests" using branches, vines and only reclaimed wood -- somehow, this treehouse was a departure of sorts for him, saying

I adore treehouses but I want to explore it further now as a sculptural medium. This was a turning point for me, and it's almost like this structure burst into existence.

In addition to his love of "working in nature with nature," the fundamental motivation behind Romero's work is to "get people to connect with nature in any way [he] can" -- treehouses being the perfect Trojan horse for this kind of communion.

To give you an idea of the beautiful work Romero has done, here are some of his previous treehouses:

Lantern Treehouse, Santa Monica

Brentwood treehouse

Courtesy of Mr. Romero, here's a sneak peek at another recent treehouse, taking shape out in Connecticut:

We hope to see more "no-tree" treehouses for those of us who aren't graced with the presence of a sturdy tree in the backyard. See more of Roderick Romero's work here, and Jeff Casper's website here.

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Tags: Environmental Certifications | Green Building | Recycled Building Materials