Treehouses: Small Spaces in Nature
By Andreas Wenning. Berlin, DOM Publishers, 2015, 305 pages, ISBN 9783869224107
The book Treehouses: Small Spaces in Nature is an homage to the subject of treehouses which have an irresistible fascination as an art form but also as places of childhood dreams, symbols of adventure, romance, freedom. It is mainly dedicated to Andreas Wenning's architectural treehouse projects but also celebrates this architectural art form by offering different essays on the subject.
Michel Foucault said that (real) places are outside of all places, even though it may be possible to indicate their location in reality. He calls them 'heterotopias' (in contrast to utopias), representing counterpoles in everyday spaces. This is how Eberhard Syring in the Preface of the book Treehouses: Small Spaces in Nature compares treehouses to heterotopias due to a concrete location in a real, existing tree, but, at the same time reaching high up into the crown of the tree being in this way literally 'removed'.
Andreas Wenning started as a young activist after completing his studies and found himself in a precarious position. With the activist position in his mind, he built himself a treehouse in the country with the idea of a prototype. His plan was to offer the planning and construction of treehouses to the public at large under the name of Baumraum (tree space). Actually, it was an architectural business idea for filling a niche in the tight market of planning services which proved to be successful.
The book Treehouses: Small Spaces in Nature as an introduction, offers interesting views on treehouses, sharing the view of the author himself (Treehouses), describing their history (A Brief Digression on Living in Trees), and regarding them as a means of environmental activism (Protests in the Trees). Also, a special essay is devoted to trees (The Tree and the Treehouse) by Klaus Schöpe and related to statics and construction. In this way, readers learn about banquets held in Ancient Rome, Parisian restaurants roosting in chestnut trees, the custom of dancing in trees, and the role of the tree house in English landscape gardening. Interesting sidelights illuminate the representation of 'high living' in literature and the visual arts. While Tarzan leaps to mind, more recently the Simpsons have also been up among the boughs.
Then, the book presents a number of treehouse projects designed by Andreas Wenning in the period 2003-2014 in Europe (mainly in Germany) and overseas, including Brazil and the United States. Over forty innovative examples of contemporary treehouses and various conceptions are shown and the clients are increasingly investors in treehouse hotels.
Several projects prepared for trade fair and exhibition in 2008 follow and finally, Baumraum visions chapter presents various fictional visions and designs for real treehouse hotels. These structures are in unusual natural settings and contemporary design aims to stimulate the observer's imagination. Each design is based on a basic concept from which finer details inevitably follow. Although the designs are challenging to plan and execute, implementing them is a realistic possibility. The presented projects range from tiny tree houses in small private gardens to trade fair and exhibition pavilions up among branches as well as tree hotels with all modern conveniences where one can check in for a spot of elevated living.
The world we live in today seemingly requires new solutions in economy, health, environment protection, education, culture and society in general. Treehouses seem to embody all of the mentioned providing new solutions in the style of living, expressing the desire for something special in the wide market of experiences. The treehouse is certainly an experience: although a primordial space, it is today an expression of a contemporary desire for returning to nature, demonstrating the uniqueness of its owner. It is a place where one enjoys a particular sense of well-being, cosiness, adventure, privacy and proximity to nature. It is a place for dreaming and contemplation...
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