- Designed: 2022
- Type: Tree House, competition project by Museum of Architecture
- Location: KEW Gardens, London, UK
- Design Team: Nasim Razavian, Pendar Nabipour
Dwelling through playing:
A treehouse is a place where one has the sense of dwelling through playing: playing with the tree, its environment, and the different forms of life formed around it. In our project, we designed a path with multiple playful and sensory experiences to arrive at the moment of being home together with the tree and contemplate.
Play elements/ experiences
- A central space, mimicking children’s drawing of a house, creates a close encounter with the tree as one can touch the trunk and see multiple living beings (fungi, mosses, etc.) from up-close. Inspired by Iranian pigeon towers, the walls consist of birdhouses.
- A speaking/listening tube transmits the sound of the leaves, wind, and birds from above and vice versa, it also has a branch to become a mode of communication between people
- A mechanical self-operated chair-lift that provides a higher view and sensation of gravity and knowledge of mechanics
- A wind chime
- A revolving kaleidoscope pointing at the adjacent trees and surrounding landscape
The house is roofless so that the passing of light through the leaves is sensed by the eyes and skin. It also celebrates the aerodynamic flight of the winged seeds of Acer platanoides and encourages playing with them.
All spaces are accessible for mobility-impaired users through a wide ramp of 1:15 slope. Circulation is one-way and fluid. An all-round handrail guides the visually impaired users through all moments of interaction. The design introduces various sensory experiences and therefore includes all users. For instance, the soil flooring triggers smell, the Kaleidoscope focuses on sight, while the speaking/listening tube and the wind chime work with sound.
Most of the used material (flooring, ramps, stairs, walls, and frames) are CLT. The CLT panels are exposed to decrease the weight, usage of materials, labor, and resources. This enables flexibility for them to be reused after the project. They are prefabricated and have the maximum feasible size and decreased amount of cuts. This results in fast assembly, disassembly, and decreased waste production and carbon emission. The rest of the materials are mostly natural like plywood, wood, and soil. For some steel elements we will use local reclaimed steel.
Continued life, reuse, or recycling:
The treehouse can be easily reassembled around almost any other tree elsewhere firstly because most architectural elements have a modular system. Secondly, the structure is entirely free-standing and does not require excavation, and thirdly, the design has a rather low height and no ceiling. In case it will not have an afterlife as a treehouse, because of their minimum adjustment of the CLT and Plywood panels from their original format, they can be easily reused.
The treehouse has an entirely self-supporting robust, light, and non-intrusive structure with steel legs that land on ski spreader plates. The floors, columns, beams, walls, ramps, stairs, and the safety guard’s frames are made from CLT. They are modular, prefabricated and CNCed. They can be easily and quickly assembled and disassembled. The flooring panels land on the beams. Then the walls and frames land onto steel pins sticking out of the floor, while sliding into each other using interlocking mount brackets. The prefabricated Plywood boards are used for safety guarding. The ramp lands separately on steel legs and ski spreader plates. There is a wooden Braille handrail that travels throughout the whole structure. A steel mesh provides the safety of the ramp and stairs. Light materials and prefabricated elements that require no heavy machinery are sensitive to the weight restrictions of the root protection area. No single branch will be cut for the construction. There are several play equipment designed for this treehouse. For example, a self-operated and guarded wooden lift works through a rail, hand winch, and pulley system. All UK Building and H&S regulations for play structures have been considered in the design.