As an entry to the Young Architects Competitions’ Tree House Module contest, the architecture team of Garvin Goepel and Christian Baumgarten have proposed a modular treehouse called Nidus Domum that is made up of two shelters inspired by wasp nests. The modules are designed to sit on the property of Vibrac castle in France to help visitors escape modern civilization.

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rendering of elevated treehouse in a forest

Curved in shape and designed to shelter visitors high up in the trees, Nidus Domum provides a closer connection to nature. The layering, addition and multiplication of individual elements of the modules are inspired by the way that wasps build their nests, in a similar systematic and engineered pattern. With wasps, oval-shaped nests are protected by a layer of chewed wood chips and wasp saliva, like a glue. The insects build layers next to each other in order to strengthen the inner population’s protection.

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diagram of a wasp nest

The modules interlock through single parts rather than in a continuous large surface, making the production and fabrication of the treehouse highly customizable. Panels can be adapted to specialized contextual arrangements, like tree branches, by exchanging and customizing single panels. Individual elements are designed small enough to be prefabricated in local factories, quickly transported to building sites and easily assembled. Subsequently, the modules are also easy to take apart and move to other locations.

diagram of a treehouse comprised of many small modules

The treehouse modules are composed of 24 individual panels with a wooden frame that includes inner bent wood paneling and an outer cladding made of liana tree bark splits sourced from the building site. The first module, Nidus Dolichovespula sylvestris (Nest of a Tree Wasp), suspends from the tree high above the ground. From the shelter, inhabitants gain an elevated view through the forest toward the castle on one side and the remote wild landscape on the other.

sketch of a treehouse in the shape of a wasp nest

In contrast, the second module, Nidus Polistinae (Nest of a Field Wasp), has a free-standing construction. The design is elevated by pilings, so it doesn’t require a tree as structural support and maintains space for a sauna. This sauna is built using the same system and connects to a terrace poised over the lake surface. Users can steam in the sauna before dipping their feet in the cold water below.

+ Garvin Goepel

+ Christian Baumgarten

Images via Christian Baumgarten