A Modernist mirrored cube that glints and reflects the sky and leaves designed by Tham & Videgård Architects
Tree houses capture the imagination and tap into the inchoate, distant memory of our hunter-gatherer past. Today, green architecture is the design zeitgeist of our age and living amid the treetops has never been more exciting, writes Jeanne-Marie Cilento
Close to the Arctic Circle and with a vista of the aurora borealis, a cluster of tree houses has become one of the most sought after retreats in Northern Sweden. Called the Treehotel, it is located near the lovely village of Harads in Swedish Lapland. Founders Britta and Karl Lindvall commissioned innovative Scandinavian architects to come up with a unique design for each house. In the middle of the forest, Lindvall has created a laboratory for contemporary architecture.
The sixth tree room of the planned twenty-four retreats is called the Five Leaf Clover and is designed by Finnish studio Rintala Eggertsson Architects. Sitting up high on century-old pine trees, it has wide-ranging views and is the largest at fifty-three square metres. Clad in weathered steel, the interior will be lined with plywood.
“At Treehotel we always strive to push limits with our environmental work, architecture and engineering," said Kent Lindvall. "Nothing like the Five Leaf Clover has ever been done before.” The building is attached to six pine trees and hovers six metres above the ground. Visitors climb a two-storey-high staircase to reach the tree house with its three bedrooms and large conference room.
The other tree houses finished in 2010 range from the twiggy Bird’s Nest that nestles in the treetops to a Modernist mirrored cube that glints and reflects the sky and leaves. In between are a surreal UFO tree house that looks like it’s just landed for a pitstop and a fairytale red cottage that has stepped from the pages of Little Red Riding Hood.
The reflective cube was designed by Tham & Videgård Architects with a pale, clean-lined interior and aerodynamic furniture. The Bird’s Nest, designed by Bertil Harström, is encased in branches and entered via a retractable stair case. Inside, it is also crisply Scandavian. There are no faux twig Man Friday tables and chairs, just a sleek, Swedish interior designed for the global traveller.
The Mirror Cube can accommodate two people and includes a living room, large bed, a small kitchenette, a bathroom and a roof terrace. One of the cleverest ideas is the use of infrared film laminated onto the glass panes and visible only to birds. It prevents them from flying into the tree house’s reflective walls.
The UFO tree house was also designed by Harström and looks like a flying saucer from the cult film Plan 9 From Outer Space. Inside, the curving interior has retro 1970s’ style cushions and sofas lit by round windows. The red cabin among the tree trunks is called the Blue Cone and was designed by Sandell Sandberg and constructed from birch shingle using traditional techniques.
The most utilitarian treehouse is Cyrén & Cyrén's cabin, suspended from a bridge. The cabin has a roof-top terrace to survey the trees and a comparatively spacious interior with specially designed built-in furniture and lamps. The Treehotel is 60 kilometres south of the Arctic Circle but is accessible to visitors as an hour's drive away is Luleå, the town with the largest airport in Northern Sweden.
Architect Bertil Harström designed both the Bird's Nest tree house pictured above and the UFO below.
The Blue Cone is actually a red tree house made from traditional birch shingles and designed by Sandell Sandberg.
Another view of the UFO tree house in the snow with it's round windows lit up in the twilight that bring light to the retro 1970's sofa and cushions in the picture below.
Cyrén & Cyrén architects designed the Cabin which is suspended high up among the trees and has a rooftop terrace
The Mirror Cube's walls reflect the trees around it so it becomes part of the forest.
The interior of the Mirror Cube with it's sleek Scandinavian design and furniture ~ no rustic Man Friday aesthetic here.
The reflective glass walls of the Mirror Cube that are laminated with an infrared film that only birds can see to prevent them flying into the tree house.
The tree house that seems to float like a giant nest in the forest when it's ladder is pulled up.
Artist's rendering of the Five Leaf Clover, the biggest tree house finished this year. The weathered steel building is designed by Finnish studio Rintala Eggertsson Architects and has three bedrooms and a living room.