Following a soft opening last June, Modus Studio’s hovering Tree House has been captured amid its fully-installed landscape in the firm’s native Arkansas.

Tree House sits above the Garvan Woodland Gardens, a 210-acre botanical garden owned by the University of Arkansas—frequent Modus collaborators. Rather than sitting at the base of the oak and pine trees found in the Evans Children’s Adventure Garden, Tree House has been elevated to the top of the forest, allowing for expansive views of the canopy.

The L-shaped treehouse snakes through the trees, ballooning from a child-sized opening at one end to a two-story observation area, capped with a steel screen, fabricated in-house by Modus, that mimics leaflike capillaries.

Photo of the interior of a treehouse ribbed in timber fins

Tree House is supported by a steel spine-and-rib superstructure, while the timber fins cloak the steel in natural material. (Timothy Hursley)

Other than its biomorphic shape, the treehouse is strongly defined by its central steel spine and 113 timber ribs, which were sourced from local Southern Yellow Pine. The fins simultaneously allow the elements to pass through the treehouse while potentially obscuring the forest and adding a sense of mystery for the occupants.

The first of three planned treehouses, the structure was envisioned as a refuge for children to explore the outdoors while learning about nature. Everything from the infrastructure, to the programming, to the intricate finishes, reference dendrology, the study of trees. Visitors can access the treehouse either from an elevated trail or directly from a staircase at the forest’s floor.

Photo of an elevated path in the forest

Visitors can enter the treehouse either through an elevated trail or a set of stairs that lead up from the forest’s floor. (Timothy Hursley)

The Fayetteville-based modus, an Emerging Voices 2018 winner, cited its deep ties to Arkansas’s rural landscape in designing Tree House and were directly involved in every step of the project’s process.

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