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.
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.
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.
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.