Remember the good old days when a tree house was a rough-looking assemblage of two-by-fours and plywood wedged into the crook of your backyard oak tree?
These days, tree houses are more than just hideaways for the Bart Simpsons of the world. They represent a creative challenge to architects all over the world. Firms like Germany’s baumraum, which specializes in offbeat projects, and designers like Pete Nelson, a Washington State-based genius of the form, have made it their mission to bring this humble concept into the future.
They fuse the natural world with the artificial in ways that are often stunning: spheres suspended in British Columbia’s Pacific rain forest; a “mirror cube” that looks like a woodsy warp in the space-time continuum; a sleek, modern cabin overlooking the German countryside, set in the ‘V’ formed by opposite-leaning oak and alder trees.
These tree houses—if that’s even the right word—are the subject of a recent photo book, Tree Houses: Fairy Tale Castles in the Air, by Philip Jodidio (TASCHEN). The book’s range, both in terms of the designs presented and geographic distribution, highlights the universal appeal of the idea of living—or at least staying—in the tree tops. Depicted are well-appointed hotel rooms in the air and the aerial dwellings of a remote Indonesian tribe. Taken as a whole, the effect is dizzying, and not just because of the heights.
These are truly awe-inspiring structures. In fact, we were so inspired that we took it upon ourselves to find a few more trippy tree houses not featured in the book and share them with our readers.