by , 12/18/06

Dallas Arboretum Treehouse Competition, Dallas Arboretum Ultimate Tree House Exhibit,  Leaves Imagination, HNTB, Brad Bell StudiosLeaves Imagination from HNTB & Brad Bell Studios

December marks the last month of the 13 extreme tree houses on display at the Dallas Arboretum. The Dallas Arboretum Ultimate Tree House exhibit is the result of a competition open to local architects in the Dallas Fort Worth Metroplex to design unique tree houses with regards to two rules…

1.The design must be non intrusive on the tree, this includes the digging into the ground around the tree to avoid roots, nailing or screwing into the tree, and avoid the pruning of any large limbs.

2.The tree house either had to be placed on the ground or up in the tree. All tree houses on the ground must be ADA compliant, and all houses up in the tree must be a minimum of 10 feet above ground level.

Dallas Arboretum 1

Framework, by designers Kippen Schet & Jonathan Wood, is both interactive and sculptural. Inspired by the beautiful views of an existing limestone pavilion containing a series of water falls, the design actually frames the particular instances within nature — encouraging viewers to see and experience what the designers saw when first visiting the site. Made of cedar and steel exposed fasteners, this treehouse is designed to bring the focus back to nature instead of competing with it.

Click here to see the other 12 designs on display at the Arboretum until the end of the month. Each designer offers a unique take on what a tree house is.

Thanks to Jonathan for the tip.

+ Dallas Arboretum
+ Link to Treehouses

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  1. lucyanntx August 18, 2009 at 7:35 pm


  2. Jason Oliver August 2, 2007 at 3:43 pm

    Thanks for the comments! I have to agree that the image in my head of an ideal tree house is not what was produced by this design competition. Having been involved (I designed tree #11; the red one) I must share the difficulty with all of you in designing a tree house for our lawyer driven society. The houses had to be either on the ground and accessible, or up in the air so far no one could reach them. Wouldn’t want to get sued… I think, however, that the design responses were excellent and creative for the limited possibilities. My house was based on a desire to create a hideaway in the bamboo, and, I think, accepted very well by children and families. Let’s just hope the Dallas Arboretum continues to play host to these kinds of events!

  3. Giovanna June 30, 2007 at 10:42 pm

    Esse Parque é muitoo lindo , em dezembro estou indo para Dallas e vou passar neste parque .. abraços

  4. Reynaldo Herreros April 6, 2007 at 1:36 am

    Its is very interesting to read the opinions of the people who experience what you create. I am one of the tree house designers. I designed and with the help of many fantastic volunteers constructed tree house #2. I think everyone to a large degree is correct in their opinions. Some think they were great, some think they are ok and others do not care for them at all. In my case I chose to design a treehouse on a tree which reminded me of my childhood. I spent my early childhood in Mexico City and so the notion of a treehouse is very different than that of a child in the USA. The main similarity that we do share is that it is a place to explore and make believe. In my childhood there was no structure to call a “treehouse”. Instead the tree itself was my place of refuge, my fort, my camp, and all of those wonderful childhood make believe places. I wanted to accentuate the great characteristics that the tree already defined. I am very happy for those that liked the displays and I appreciate the honesty of those that were not so happy with the results.

  5. willow January 10, 2007 at 1:44 am

    The post did indicate that the treehouse had to be ADA compliant OR a minimum of 10 feet in the air. I’m sure the latter would have been much more challenging, but it is still kind of sad that not one person accepted the challenge. I think Moe has it right. The joy of a treehouse is being up in the tree; having a little secret place. They definately are all interresting and I’d love to go see the art, but that’s what they are to me. Art, not treehouses.

  6. K. Williams January 5, 2007 at 12:47 pm

    Interesting designs, but I personally don’t see what the hype is all about. Perhaps I’m not up with the times since things may have changed drastically since I was a kid in the 1970’s, because these don’t look like treehouses. They look like small replicas of what should be in a much larger scale and intended for use at art museums. Maybe I’m wrong, but I always thought of treehouses and playhouses as a space of virtually any size being enclosed, a high ceiling, and maybe a window or two. Times must have really, really changed! As for me, I’ll stick with the good ‘ol days :-)

  7. Goedjn December 28, 2006 at 6:11 pm

    It’s all very nice that the structures are interactive,
    touchable, handicapped-accessible, and don’t stress
    the trees. But as a result of meeting all those criteria,
    they’re not treehouses.

  8. Diane December 27, 2006 at 11:08 am

    I enjoyed the tree houses. The concept was great…tree houses around tree trunks. I enjoyed the more enclosed houses more than the open ones. Color played a huge part in the structures and they were all playful. It was fun seeing the children’s reactions…they loved it.

  9. Jill December 21, 2006 at 2:21 pm

    Hi Richie-

    If you would bother to actually read this article, you would see that the whole point of this treehouse exhibition is to show off treehouses that DON’T stress or harm trees. Hence the reason why most of the treehouses are on the ground and independantly supported.

  10. Ashley December 21, 2006 at 12:13 pm

    Actually, none of the designs harmed or stressed the trees. Moore Tree Care was on hand overseeing the installation, pruning for the designers, giving root care, drilling any holes in the ground to avoid the roots, making sure no holes were drilled in the trees, making sure the soil was not compacted around the tree to stress the roots, and generally making sure the designs enhanced instead of damaged the trees, and that, when the tree houses were gone, the trees would remain healthy and beautiful.
    To address the other comment, the houses are all on the ground because one of the requirements was that they would be ADA accessible, so wheelchairs, strollers, and everyone could get inside them. They are still interactive, you can go inside them and sit down, touch them, explore in them, but the traditional up in the tree–tree house was expanded for more creativity, and to expose the TREE as the art instead of the house.

  11. Moe December 19, 2006 at 8:56 pm

    For me the joy of the treehouse was that you got to climb up in it and play in the branches and leaves . . . that it was a playhouse but also a kind of secret fort. The designs do an excellent job of framing the trees, and paying homage to them, but from them I’m missing the kind of swiss-family-robinson fun-feel one gets from actually being in a tree. Perhaps this has to do with restrictions on drilling into the tree or pruning large limbs, in which case, I understand. Still, though. These are houses-around-trees rather than tree-houses.

  12. Julie Niemeyer December 19, 2006 at 5:12 pm

    Wonderful…My hope is that other arboretums can incorporate or expand this idea into what sometimes can be a rather stuffy boring experience for the uninitiated. Arboretums are beautiful park-like setting with dedicated staffs filled with specimen plants and trees accompanied by a host of little tags in Latin. I appreciate that someone had the foresight to create them. They are posterity’s horticultural banks. I’m thrilled that art in this form has the potential to bring visitors and their imaginations to these important depositories and research centers.

  13. Richie Kessler December 19, 2006 at 4:55 pm

    Interesting designs,

    My pet peave with most tree Houses is that they harm, or stress, trees. Wouldn’t it be better to create designs that were AMONG the Trees, but not attached to them ? I think so. Plant some utility poles and create a superstructure that independently supports dwelling up amongst the Tree’s. That has my vote !


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