treehouses

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Art

A Three-Story Tree Acts as a Scaffold for a Growing Community in a Mural by Ethan Murrow

May 20, 2020

Grace Ebert

“The Garden” in Seattle. All images © Ethan Murrow, by Julia Featheringill and Stewart Clements

In a 53-foot mural of exposed roots and tangled branches, Boston-based artist Ethan Murrow (previously) situates an energetic construction site manned by human workers, who heave their materials and balance across taught ropes. “The Garden” is replete with scaffolding, small tool sheds, and suspended orbs of sod and lumber among the sturdy boughs. With flags staked on its top, the tree serves as an organic backdrop for the humans’ manufactured expansion. Evidenced by the figure raising a tree branch to the sky in the top left corner, though, the workers’ actions often appear peculiar and inconsequential.

In a statement, Murrow explains that his scenic works are rooted in United States history and culture. Whereas traditional narratives are founded on the idea that progress and human superiority are natural, the artist works to subvert those assumptions.

As our world leaks and creaks forward, landscape can act as the ultimate term and representation of the joys and foibles of our actions. Landscape is an aesthetic ideal, an edited view of reality that suits the maker—in essence, a fiction. For me, the word has come to define our use of images and stories to convince ourselves of who we are, what we know to be true, and what we wish was fact.

Rendered in high flow acrylic and paint pens, “The Garden” is installed at Expedia Group headquarters in Seattle. Many of Murrow’s projects that are concerned with historical narratives and human progress can be found on Instagram.

 

 

 



Art

Miniature Workshops Constructed Inside Ceramic Vessels by Jedediah Voltz

May 1, 2018

Kate Sierzputowski

Miniature-builder and ceramicist Jedediah Corwyn Voltz constructs tiny homes, studios, and workshops perched within or around domestic objects. Previously we’ve covered his mini treehouses—impressive structures that scale succulents and other common houseplants with the support of petite scaffolding. Recently the artist has combined two of his preferred mediums, building small-scale interior scenes in the cross-section of his handmade ceramic vessels.

The multi-piece sculptures feature workbenches, complex machinery, crystals, and telescopes which peer from the top of the converted pots. These miniature workshops will be exhibited in the group show Bad Ass Miniatures: … Causing a Little Trouble at D. Thomas Fine Miniatures in Yonkers, New York from May 5 through July 22. You can view more of the Los Angeles-based artist’s ceramic works and tiny houseplant homes on his Instagram and Big Cartel.

 

    

 

 



Design History

In 1848 A French Commune Built an Interconnected Treehouse Cabaret Based on Swiss Family Robinson

February 20, 2018

Kate Sierzputowski

For over a century, Parisians were drawn out of the city and into the neighboring village of Le Plessis-Piquet to experience charming summer evenings among the township’s tall trees. What started as open air dancehalls called “guinguettes,” turned into treehouse cabarets after restaurant proprietor Joseph Gueusquin built Le Grand Robinson in 1848.

Inspired by the treehouse described in The Swiss Family Robinson, the unique establishment hoisted visitors to the top branches of a thick chestnut tree to dine dozens of feet above their fellow revelers. Over the next few decades copycat restaurants began popping up in trees across town, hosting donkey races and building tall tree swings to persuade diners away from their numerous competitors. This crop of new treetop guinguettes forced Gueusquin to rename his lounge “Le Vrai de Arbre Robinson” (The Real Robinson Tree) in 1888, which ensured customers knew they were dining at the original treehouse of Le Plessis-Piquet.

In 1909, after 60 years of booming success with the popular treehouses, the town changed its name to Le Plessis-Robinson. Today none of the Parisian suburb’s treetop bars remain (the last shut its doors in 1976), however the memory of treetop revelry remains in the few forgotten boards tacked to the town’s tall trees. (via Jeroen Apers)

 

 



Design

A Bird's Nest Tearoom Perched Atop a 300-Year-Old Camphor Tree in Japan

August 17, 2016

Christopher Jobson

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All photos by Koji Fujii for Hiroshi Nakamura & NAP

Architect Hiroshi Nakamura had always been intrigued by how some crows utilize found coat hangers as a structural element in their nests. With this idea in mind, a unique opportunity presented itself when treehouse builder Takashi Kobayashi contacted him with an unusual site for a tearoom: 10 meters above the ground in a 300-year-old cinnamomum camphora tree growing precariously on the side of a mountain that overlooks the ocean in Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan. Using the coat hangers as a starting point he designed the Bird’s Nest Atami Tearoom using a variety of minimally invasive construction techniques meant to protect the integrity of the tree.

“Hangers are not only durable but also highly elastic, and they offer more hooks to connect than branches and hence are easier to assemble,” he shares. “Crows, flying deftly across the dichotomy of natural and artificial, are creating a functional and comfortable environment.” Thus the tearoom became a lightweight scaffold-type structure that works in harmony with the trees branches instead of being directly anchored to it. From Nakamura’s notes on the project:

For the foundation, we carefully inserted pier type foundations between the roots in order to avoid the use of concrete and large-scale excavation. Using the structure itself as scaffolding, we assembled it by avoiding the branches as birds create their nest, adding or taking out components based on structural analysis. We mortared the room interior to be like a swallow’s nest. The design leaves open the possibility for visitors to experience nest building by picking up branches from the mountain side and fitting them into walls inside.

The tearoom is part of the KAI Atami resort, and you can see more views both inside and out on the Hiroshi Nakamura & NAP website. Please take me with you. (via ARCHatlas)

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Art Design

Miniature Treehouse Sculptures Built Around Houseplants by Jedediah Voltz

April 12, 2016

Christopher Jobson

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LA-based artist Jedediah Corwyn Voltz constructs miniature treehouses wrapped around common houseplants or bonsai trees in his new sculptural series titled Somewhere Small. Voltz relies on over a decade of commercial prop making for film and other projects to craft each structure from scratch using small bits of wood, silk fabric, miniature artworks, and semi precious stones that are hidden throughout. To-date he’s produced some 25 little habitats that resemble everything from tiny watchtowers in secluded forests, to large bustling windmills or water wheels.

The pieces you see here will be on view at Virgil Normal in LA starting April 23. (thnx, jake!)

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Design

Camp in the Air: New Suspended Treehouse Tents and Hammocks Designed by Tentsile

June 26, 2015

Christopher Jobson

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Since we last mentioned Tensile tents around this time last year, the company has unveiled several new models of their fantastic suspended tent systems. There’s a small hammock for three that can be layered into a multi-tiered treehouse, a 2-layer tree tent, and a massive communal tent system designed to hold 6 people high in the air. Tentsile was invented by designers Alex Shirley-Smith and Kirk Kirchev in 2012 and have since taken the camping world by storm, opening their own factory and picking up an ISPO design award. You can see plenty more here.

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