Treehouses are the refuge of childhood and a safe haven where we can escape from the everyday world around us. They can also become a metaphor for our relationship with nature and the world of dreams.
Many architects find inspiration in the design and construction of treehouses, for both the challenge of building inside a living organism and the aesthetic experience they create. This is especially true when they are built for an exhibition or a special event.
The Museum of Architecture and Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew are calling for young architects to design stunning treehouses for a new exhibition at the world-renowned garden in London. Designed to inspire visitors, the Treehouses of Kew exhibition will run from April 2023 and will feature seven treehouses, as well as a gallery exhibition and visitor programme.
The competition will require entrants to design a treehouse, and a bespoke architectural proposal. It will also ask entrants to consider their design within the context of the 320-acre UNESCO World Heritage Site, Kew, a world-leading plant science institute and a leading visitor attraction.
Entries will be judged by a panel of leading experts in the field of architecture, including Melissa Woolford, founder and director of MoA; Winka Dubbeldam, senior associate at GAD Foundation; Andreas Wenning, architect and director of Aedas; Peter Eising, founder and principal of Pacific Environments Architects; and Gokhan Avcioglu, founding partner of Arkytecture. The finalists will be invited to visit Kew and work with the gardens and MoA to realise their designs on-site, to be included in various project components such as a gallery exhibition, visitor programming, publications, marketing and press and commercial activities associated with the project.
Winners and Honorable Mentions will be published on the website and in several international architecture and design magazines. The winners and the finalists will also receive participation certificates.
Mushroom Earth Room
Tonkin Liu’s ‘Mushroom Earth Room’ treehouse is an innovative use of natural materials to create a contemporary treehouse in the woods. The project utilises timber from the trees themselves to frame a canopy of natural light, and provides an escape from everyday life on the ground below through a series of sculptural spaces. The resulting space is a magical place of discovery, as the architect says it “captures and amplifies the minutiae of forest life”.
Patrick Fryer, Thomas Randall-Page and Xylotek’s ‘Linden Thing’ treehouse celebrates a silver lime tree with its majestic sculptural trunk, sublime dappled light, and heady aroma of Lime Flower Tea. The structure uses ‘Y’-shaped columns harvested in the forest to support delicate CLT slabs, a synergy of low and high timber technologies.
The ‘Y’-shaped columns are inspired by the symmetry of the trees that are growing around them. The panels are carefully selected and harvested in the forest to ensure they’re of the highest quality, so the structure is durable and long lasting.
The ‘Treetop Playscape’ aims to encourage children to experience their play amongst the treetops, while also celebrating the role trees play in a child’s development and learning. The design includes a playful ‘treetop shell’, a ‘Y’-shaped column that supports the interior surface of the treehouse.