Sailboat-inspired prefab treehouse villa hangs from the trees

Farrow Partnership Architects
© Farrow Partnership Architects

From prefabs to using found materials, treehouses nowadays come built in an amazing variety of forms and construction techniques. But building a treehouse that doesn't harm the tree, or restrict its growth often means paying special attention to engineering or using customized components like a Garnier limb.

Toronto-based architecture firm Farrow Partnership Architects approaches this problem by hanging their curvaceous treehouse from the tree's upper trunk, rather than nailing to it.

Farrow Partnership Architects© Farrow Partnership Architects

Soon to be built at the E'Terra Samara Resort in Tobermory, Ontario, Farrow Partnership Architects' treehouse is a streamlined structure that is inspired by the "samara," also known as those papery propeller seeds of the maple tree. Farrow (also known for their huge glue-laminated timber space in Mississauga, Ontario's Credit Valley Hospital) will prefabricate these treehouses offsite in three pieces, using FSC-certified lumber and techniques culled from sailboat construction techniques.

Farrow Partnership Architects© Farrow Partnership Architects

Farrow Partnership Architects© Farrow Partnership Architects

Each frame will be lifted and bolted together during the winter to minimize disturbance to wild animal habitats in the forest, which is part of a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, using a "remarkably simple steel shoulder and cable system that hugs the tree trunk," and a dash of Japanese tradition:

This construction methodology is inspired by the umbrella-like yukitsuri ropes which support the black pine tree branches in Kenrokuen Garden located in Kanazawa, Japan. High-strength drawn carbon structural cables, made of a series of small strands twisted together like a vine, form larger cables which are attached to spiral circular rods. These rods are tied to the embedded plate connection at the wooden beams.

Farrow Partnership Architects© Farrow Partnership Architects

The fabric coverings of these treehouses are somewhat translucent, allowing more natural daylighting but also creating the impression of tree-hung lanterns at night. They are also apparently self-cleaning:

Seasonally, fabric bonnets are attached to the wooden frame and function like the leaves of a tree, providing shade and comfort while actively neutralizing airborne pollutants and odors. The bonnets are made out of PTFE fiberglass coated non-toxic and flame-resistant TiO2 (titanium dioxide) fabric. The self-cleaning benefits of TiO2 bonnets allow the material to break down dirt and other organic materials through a chemical reaction with the sun’s UV rays, oxygen and water vapor present in the air.

Twelve of these treehouses will make up a small villa available for people to rent; there will be amenities such as composting toilets and graywater-recycling showers to allow occupants some comforts while enjoying the great outdoors. More over at Farrow Partnership Architects and E'Terra's Samara Project.

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