Natural Architecture – the Design of a Tree House

It’s not often that nature and the man-made world are able to coexist but in a project that defies the odds, these elements are living and breathing in concert.

Trees are often the victims of construction – obstacles to be pulled up and destroyed to make way for a building, or they are damaged beyond repair when put under stress from diggers, mechanical equipment and vehicles working around them.

From time to time, however, a work of architecture comes to fruition, which makes a concerted effort to protect and maintain the trees that exist in the surrounding landscape.
One such project is Pete Bossley Architects’ Thorne Bay House situated on the Takapuna waterfront. The design arose from the need to build in relation to five well-established Pohutukawa trees – encouraging an innovative architectural approach with respect to the landscape treatment.


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Tree-house-stairsThe team was challenged with building under, around and between the tree limbs while taking full advantage of the site, the sun and the stunning views.

The trees and house exist as counterpoints to one another and also as collaborators. As the house rises into the trees’ contorted limbs, the character of the house changes.
The rooms on the upper floor become more angular and free-flowing, reflecting the asymmetrical, vertical forms of the trees’ branches. This floor is comprised of three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a generous roof top terrace and a treehouse library perched on asymmetrical steel columns.

Treehouse-skylightA stunning example of providing traditional shelter but without sealing the inhabitants off from their surroundings, the trees are also a key element of the interior views, being framed by the windows. They also inform the perspective of the location, providing a foreground element to the beach and the ocean beyond.

In a world that is not only becoming increasingly congested but inconsiderate of the environment it shares, it’s refreshing to witness an example of architecture that touches upon the ideal relationship between human habitation and the natural world.