Heat-treated pine and steel were used to create this unique treehouse inside the Garvan Woodland Gardens in central Arkansas. The space, a 210-acre nature park with botanical gardens owned by the University of Arkansas, borders the Quachita River. The structure itself resides inside a children’s garden full of native trees such as oak and pine, and serves as an interactive experience for children.
The treatment process to create the “thermalised” southern yellow pine uses heat and steam to ensure longer-lasting durability of the wood. It also makes the wood less susceptible to weather and the elements.
The slatted design provides a strong, safe way for the children to feel more connected with nature. The curves were intentional, influenced by “dendrology,” or the study of trees, exhibited by the way the house changes shape while walking through.
Using six pairs of skinny steel columns, the treehouse is lifted 13 to 25 feet into the air. This ensures that the natural ground below wouldn’t have to be manipulated in order to install the structure— an important consideration for the protected nature park. It’s a win-win situation, as the elevated location allows visitors to feel suspended into the air among the trees without a dangerous climb.
The treehouse is multi-storied and has a raised walkway leading into the entrance in the center. When it comes to the actual structural design, the designers built a centralized spine made of steel that runs along the entire treehouse. Connected to the spine are 113 ribs (10 made of steel and the rest out of pine) that act as a sort-of skeleton, as well as features floor plates and six pairs of columns.
Holes constructed into the east and north-facing ends give visitors an unobstructed view of the forest and tree canopies, with the eastern side partly covered by a decorative metal screen for added safety and allure.
As for the “tail” of the treehouse, the designers used a metal infill and net to give users the illusion of danger (while still completely protected) keeping the spirit and excitement of a traditional treehouse alive.
Images via Modus Studio