New York’s Madison Square Garden has taken on a Swiss-Family-Robinson feel lately. This is due to an art exhibition featuring work by Tadashi Kawamata called Madison Square Tree Huts, which emerged completed on October 2. A gathering of small wooden houses up in the trees, folks passing through the park might find themselves grinning upward with wonderment at these small structures meant to shake up our notion of public space and how it interacts with ideas of urbanity, rural romanticism and play.

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Constructed on-site with found materials and construction scraps, the huts are part of the Madison Square Art program, where the Park Conservancy works to put on thought-provoking displays in this sort of boundless gallery. Visitors had the opportunity to observe the tree huts come together over the month of September as part of an Artists in Residency program- its construction was documented on the project’s blog. The huts were built in and amongst branches with a system of rubber sheaths and cut lumber ensures that the bark is never scraped or penetrated. The houses are also lodged far above visitors’ heads, perhaps to discourage enthusiasts who might want to climb up and move into them.

The project’s blog tells tales of giddy happenstance patrons with their necks craned back, taking photos. Younger enthusiasts attended a Tree Hut Family Art Workshop at the end of September, transforming piles of Popsicle sticks into their own treehouses. Despite the lack of a water wheel or helpful zebra buddies, the huts have been successful in bringing a sense of interruptive play to the area.

+ Madison Square Park Conservancy