Ever since the first time I watched Swiss Family Robinson as a kid I have been fascinated with treehouses. Maybe it's because of their ability to arouse a child-like state of freedom or the fact that most treehouses are built in co-operation with nature, unlike the usual 'clear and construct' approach. Either way, eco treehouses are becoming more and more popular, to the point where some of the worlds most admired architects are taking their skills to the forests to create sustainable liveable works of art.
Here are 8 of the best from all around the world.
1. Summit Bechtel Reserve, Mt Hope, West Virginia, USA.
This treehouse is a celebration of sustainability and innovation. It produces and manages all its own energy, water and waste on the site. It was designed with a plethora of green building systems, of which photovoltaic panels, wind turbines, and a water cleansing system are among the most impressive.
2. Leaf House O2 Treehouse, Wisconsin, USA.
This unique treetop dome is constructed entirely of recycled materials, and they hang from cables instead of being bolted to trees so their impact is minimal.
3. Glass Cabin, West Virginia, USA.
Nick Olson and Lila Horowitz built this retreat in the woods for only $500! It is made entirely of repurposed windows and salvaged materials and can safely say that it lets in the morning light.
4. Finca Bellavista, Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica.
The world’s first planned, contemporary, sustainable treehouse community. Each resident is required to purchase and use a biodigester, which generates electricity and heat with a waste-to-energy process, and the architecture is optimized to make the most of cross-ventilation, passive natural lighting and responsible building systems.
5. Free Spirit Sphere, Vancouver Island, Canada.
These spheres were created with the concept of “oneness” in mind, so the floor, walls and ceiling create one continuous space unlike a conventional building. They utilize biomimicry and are designed to fit into a forest setting without altering it
6. The Mirror Treehouse, Harads, Sweden.
Almost completely invisible, the mirror treehouse was designed as one of six ‘tree hotels’ in Sweden. It has been constructed from sustainably harvested wood, has electric radiant floor heating and a state-of-the-art eco-friendly incineration toilet.
Worried that birds might fly into it? Don’t be. The architects have applied a special film that is visible to birds.
7. Paperback Camp, Jervis Bay, Australia.
Conceived over a few sundowners on safari in Africa in the eighties, Paperbark Camp officially opened in 1999 after years of dreaming and planning by the owners, Jeremy & Irena Hutchings. With the help of their family and a dedicated team of staff, the camp remains a family operated business and continues to be at the forefront of ecotourism in Australia.
8. Redwood Treehouse, Warkworth, New Zealand.
A striking pod-shaped structure built ten metres high in a redwood tree near Warkworth, north of Auckland is inspired through forms found in nature, and is reminiscent of a chrysalis protecting an emerging butterfly. The vertical fins and slats are built from sustainably grown pine and poplar. It can now be hired out for private functions and events.