When most people think of a treehouse, they usually picture a shabby structure held together with a few nails and a parent’s hope that it doesn’t come crashing down. Then there are the people who think bigger, who grew up wishing they could live in the treetops like Peter Pan’s Lost Boys or The Swiss Family Robinson. These are the ones who have been stretching the commonly-held notion of a treehouse to create magical and awe-inspiring designs, like the 11 below. Some of these are single rooms and some are just concepts, but they all bring civilization back to nature in beautiful and whimsical ways.
Found in Northern Germany, the Treehouse Djuren from Baumraum is designed around two big oak trees and features an egg-like profile. The clients reached out to the company, wanting a comfortable nest for the whole family, but gave no further instruction. With curved glass on the front, two terraces, and comfortable seating areas inside, we think Baumraum nailed it.
UK-based Blue Forest is one of the leading names in treehouse design and has been one of our favorites for a while now. Their Quiet Treehouse marked the collaboration between the company and retailer John Lewis as a way to (hopefully) end noise pollution in the future. The entire structure was created with noise management in mind, with special insulation and materials to keep the outside irritants from getting in. Aside from its quiet nature, the physical appearance is pretty stunning. Unlike others on this list, the structure itself resembles that of three trees.
Called the 4Treehouse, the above was created by Lukasz Kos and can be found high up in fir trees on Lake Muskoka in Ontario, Canada. Appearing to hover like a glowing Japanese lantern, the three-floor structure was built around four trees instead of between them.
Self-taught Takashi Kobayashi is pretty well known in Japan for his treehouse designs, which are meant to eliminate the line between mankind and nature. Along with his TreeHouse People team, he developed a method of building that doesn’t stunt the tree’s growth. The structure above can be found in Nasu, Japan.
A little larger than others on this list, the Sustainability Treehouse from Mithun is a massive structure in West Virginia that was created for the Boy Scouts of America in 2013. Full of spaces for education and recreation, the multi-tiered building features a Corten steel frame that elevates it among the trees. It also has “photovoltaic panels, wind turbines, and a large cistern and water cleansing system,” as well as exhibits that showcase how far sustainable technology has progressed.
With a heavy Asian influence, Sharma Springs from Ibuku was created for the Sharma family as their own personal Swiss Family Robinson-style jungle retreat. With six levels and four bedrooms, the massive bamboo treehouse overlooks the Aung River valley in Bali. With a tunnel-bridge entrance, staircases that circle around a main internal tower, and open-air living spaces, the Sharma Springs home takes treehouses to a completely different level. Plus, the design team also brought on metalsmiths to custom make shower stalls and stone artisans to carve countertops from boulders.
The Hemloft is a ship-like design created by Joel Allen after he retired as a software developer when he was 26. Deciding to try his hand at carpentry, he ended up building this beautiful house on land that he doesn’t own on Whistler Mountain in Canada. Since the land isn’t his, it means he has to be pretty sneaky about its exact location while he figures out the best legal way to reveal it without having to take it down.
The Biodiversity Nest Treehouse is another from Blue Forest and we love its spiny shape. Created to be part of the New Rainforest Canopy Walk at The Eden Project in Cornwall, England, the nest was inspired by the weaver bird common to East Africa (which is where Blue Forest’s founder Andy Payne was born). Made using wood and steal-framed decks, the structure is in the middle of the rainforest canopy and is used as an educational space within the biome.
The Tetsu Teahouse in Japan is adorable. Plain and simple. Looking like it jumped right out of a Hayao Miyazaki film, the quaint cottage features sliding wooden doors and shutters, with a floor hatch entrance. The architect Terunobu Fujimori is known for putting traditional buildings at heights others would flinch at, and while this one is one of his more modest, it’s still beautiful.
UK artist Tom Hare prefers working with willow branches for his large-scale installations and sculptures, like this unique egg-like nest. Commissioned by a private home owner for a cherry tree in their backyard, the organic sphere is lit from within and looks stunning against a twilight sky.
Last but not least is the Primeval Symbiosis (Single Pole House), which was designed by architecture student and interior designer Konrad Wójcik. The concept goes beyond a mere structure and expands into an entire way of living, one that coexists with nature and doesn’t leave any carbon footprint at all. Meant to accommodate households of two to four, Wójcik states that he was inspired by the “functionality and structure of a tree. Studying its nature, allowed me to come up with ideas and solutions to create a completely self-sufficient construction.” The octahedron building isn't actually in a tree, bit instead exists within forests and has its own “trunk” speared into the ground that gives wildlife shelter from the elements. If this is what the future looks like, we are completely on board.