Client: Young Architects Competitions
Status: Competition (2020)
Clasification: Honour mention
Location: Les Trois-Moutiers, France
Coordinates: 47.0924167, 0.032555
Climate: Continental, Temperate
Scale: 18 ㎡ Extrasmall
Types: Cabin, Microarchitecture
The proposal for the modular treehouse looks to the context and its history for inspiration. On the scale of the site and its surroundings, the castle exists as a fortified residence and as a central point from which to survey the terrain. The treehouse exists as the exact opposite of this; multiple tiny dwellings dispersed throughout the landscape. Our proposal plays on this observation; the modular treehouse distributed around the ruin so that the castle that once watched over the landscape is now watched over, in return, by the landscape.
The castle’s arch-shaped windows and gateways that frame the view of the surrounding countryside are now repeated in the tree houses, framing these romantic ruins for its inhabitants. The vaulted shape also takes its cue from a childhood experience, one that involves building a mattress fort from sheets, chairs and bed frames. This act of draping a piece of cloth over a makeshift structure is mimicked by the scaled roof draping over the arches and creating a vaulted roof. The use of material and construction is also used to reflect the sites’ past. With the walls making reference to traditional medieval timber frame construction, the scaled roof brings with it images of knights’ armour; guardians of castles. And finally, since all three castles suffered the same fate of being engulfed in flames, it seems only fitting that the treehouses’ facades memorialise these events by using charred timber for the exterior finish, allowing them to sit within the landscape in an almost ruined state seeming to have just been set ablaze and at the same time contrasting the surrounding lush greenery.
The inside of these tree houses further work to contrast their blackened exterior; using a warmer natural timber finish, the interior allows its inhabitants to easily feel at home during their stay. A large circular window frames the various ruins at the different sites, offering the occupants a front-row seat to marvel at their beauty. The bedroom and bathroom are placed towards the back of the house allowing the bed to maintain its view of the castle but also have the option of drawing a curtain for more privacy. Both these rooms are also enhanced with windows on either side of the house that project upwards on the exterior and offer these spaces a more intimate connection with the flora and fauna that encompass the cabin. This divide in the plan (private and public) is also evident in its position within the trees – with the bedroom and bathroom placed within the tree’s foliage offering more privacy and the common lounge area protruding out to allow maximum sunlight into the space and to not have its view to the castle ruins obstructed.
Elements of play are also used to enhance the childhood fascination with tree houses. These are designed as small moments within the space such as the curved seating next to the circular bay window, allowing one to lie in the warm rays of the sun and stare out. The net is another element that hangs above the bed offering a moment of suspension whilst reading a book or just gazing out into the adjacent greenery. Whilst the module in the trees is raised up on timber columns and floats amongst the high tree branches, the module on the ground floor is proposed to push out over the water’s edge, providing its residents with a beautiful view over the water towards the ruins.