A new treehouse in Aspen, Colorado is bringing kids closer to the wonders of nature. Charles Cunniffe Architects (CCA) completed the ACES Treehouse, an outdoor classroom designed pro-bono for the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies (ACES). Located in the 25-acre Hallam Lake nature preserve and environmental learning center, the elevated platform was built of CNC-milled plywood that will develop a patina and blend into the surroundings over time.
Built to replace a former decaying platform, the ACES Treehouse is located on a half-mile nature trail on the banks of the Roaring Fork River in an area rich in birds of prey and lush riparian ecosystems. The treehouse was realized through a series of fortuitous events, beginning with CCA’s donation of the design to the Buddy Program for its annual fundraising program to the purchasing of the design by Gunnar Sachs and donated labor and discounted materials by the community including CCA, Hansen Construction, LGM, and Sopris Engineering.
“It feels as if the structure belongs in its environs, and beckons you in,” said CCA. “Utilizing the existing four pillars, the goal of the design was to create different stations to enjoy the various aspects of the ecology. Approaching the platform from the trail, one is surrounded by a stand of Cottonwood trees, including a downed tree worth exploring.” The lower level brings users close to the river ecology, while the upper platform brings them in closer view of local fauna like American dippers, deer, foxes, bears, ACES resident Golden Eagle, Great Horned Owl and Red-tailed hawks. Vertical timber strips double as bird blinds that camouflage the viewers for wildlife observation.
Images © Ross Kribbs