The US-based architecture firm Mithum recently unveiled their latest sustainability project, the so-called Sustainability Treehouse, which was commissioned by The Boy Scouts of America. The structure is the effort of a multidisciplinary team, which created this sustainable and innovative dwelling in the forest of West Virginia. The main goal of the house is to provide an educational platform for visiting boy scouts, and it is filled with a number of interactive exhibits.
The Sustainability Treehouse is 125 feet tall. It was built using tree trunks in place of steel columns, while the trees’ canopies serve as energy-generating rooftops. The house is set within a corten steel frame, with several cantilevering masses set at the different vertical zones of the ecosystem, namely ground, canopy, and sky. These serve as interactive and informative educational spaces for children to learn about the forest environment around them, and the latest technologies designed towards its preservation.
The entire tree house was also constructed in a way that demonstrates all the sustainable and environmentally friendly features it sets out to teach. It is equipped with photovoltaic panels and qr5 wind generators, which together create all the energy needed to run the place. There is also a large water-collecting cistern, which also cleanses the water. The treehouse rests on concrete pylons, which support the metal stilts that hold up the upper floors. This reduces the impact on the ground, which would destroy the forest bed under the structure.
The upper floors are connected via bridges built between the trees at the different levels, which adds an air of adventure and makes learning about the forest environment and the newest sustainable technologies that much more fun. Since many boy scouts dream of living in a tree house, the educational value of this structure is also higher.
The interior of the structure measures 3,357 square feet, with a 2,448 square feet exterior platform/deck area. The Sustainability Treehouse received the 2013 Award of Honor for Washington Architecture, while it is also aiming for the Living Building Challenge Certification. The treehouse was constructed by Swope Construction.