West-facing elevation of House of Tree
I’ve made just two visits to my recently completed House of Tree project and it already feels as though it’s always been there, or at least was always meant to be there. Climbing the 30 steps to the cabin, you wind around the inside of the tower, first facing South, then West, then North, entering onto the back porch after a final ascent to the East. The number of stairs of each climb is roughly in proportion to the scale of the landings they lead to, both increase in number and size, respectively, as you go up. It’s as though if you kept climbing you could reach the vast open sky, kind of how I always pictured happening in Jack and the Beanstalk. Indeed, entering the structure after winding up the tower has a magical effect; the height off the ground adds to the feeling and it’s easy to drop the cares of the world below once inside.
View to the South from the structure’s solitary ‘awning’ window
What makes treehouses of all kinds so universally lovable is that they are all essentially hermitages, places where we go to get away, or to reconnect in some way, usually beginning simply with the dream of being in a tree or of feeling protected in the forest. I designed House of Tree in collaboration with my client, who wanted a secret place to escape to. Its windows frame views of the redwood forest on three sides, with the Western elevation opening out to an apple orchard in a clearing to catch the afternoon sun. Though the cabin is just over 200 square feet, it’s easy to imagine spending a few days with spare provisions, without ever wanting or needing to touch ground.
Saint Tikhon of Kaluga
One of the more legendary tree-dwellers is Saint Tikhon of Kaluga, a 15th century Russian monk who lived in a hollow oak tree on the banks of the River Vepreika. A famous monastery and cathedral were eventually built on or near the site of his original hermitage, and a Feast Day is celebrated in his honor on June 16, the date of his death in 1492. I would love to see this date marked as a treehouse holiday in celebration of arboreal living.