Innovative Sustainable Tree House Design

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The Toronto based firm Farrow Partnership Architects designed and built a unique, modern tree house, which is made from sustainable materials, and doesn’t harm the tree in any way, or restrict its growth. The latter is made possible by the architect’s novel approach of hanging the tree house from the trunk instead of nailing it to the tree.

The tree house has a curvy design, which was inspired by sailboat construction techniques. The first such tree house will be built at the E’Terra Resort in Tobermory, Ontario. The design itself was inspired by the “samara” (the papery propeller seeds of the maple tree). The tree house will be prefabricated offsite, and then transported in three pieces to the building site. Only FSC-certified lumber will be used in the construction process.

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Onsite, each of the three pieces will be lifted and fixed into place using a simple steel shoulder and cable system, which hugs the tree trunk. More specifically, high-strength drawn carbon structural cables, which are made of a number of small strands twisted together like a vine, will be used to form larger cables that are attached to spiral circular rods. To hold the tree house up, these rods are then tied to the embedded plate connection at the wooden beams.

The tree house will be covered by partially see-through fabric coverings, which are designed so as to allow the maximum possible amount of natural daylight to enter the house, and give the impression of tree-hung lanterns during the night. The specially designed coverings are made of a PTFE fiberglass coated non-toxic and flame-resistant TiO2 (titanium dioxide) fabric. These TiO2 bonnets also have self-cleaning properties, as they effectively break down dirt and other organic materials through a chemical reaction with the sun’s UV rays, water vapor and oxygen in the air. The coverings are also designed to function just like the leaves of a tree, in that they provide shade and comfort while at the same time consistently neutralizing airborne pollutants and odors.

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The architects will build twelve such tree houses to make a tiny village at the E’Terra Resort. These units will be available for rent, while each of the tree houses will also be equipped with composting toilets and graywater-recycling showers. To have the minimal possible impact on the environment and wild life habitat of the resort, the tree houses will be locked down and bolted during the winter.

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