It took just 15 minutes for a fire to reduce a ten-story treehouse, the world's largest, to ashes. Following an apparent vision from god, minister Horace Burgess began to build the 97-foot-tall complex in Crossville, Tennessee, in 1993. The Minister’s Treehouse, as it was known, quickly became a tourist destination and was regularly used for church services and, according to a 2009 article in The Independent, as a basketball court. However, in 2012 the structure was closed to the public when local authorities decided it didn’t meet fire standards; perhaps luckily, as no one was injured in Tuesday’s fire. (According to Atlas Obscura, Burgess claimed that there were no building codes for treehouses. The Tennessee Fire Marshall disagreed.) Burgess reported to Atlas Obscura in 2013 that god had told him, "If you build a treehouse, I'll see that you never run out of material,” and soon people began bringing him scrap lumber to build the elaborate structure atop an 80-foot-tall oak tree, with six other trees offering additional support. Each floor was wrapped with a deck, and before officials closed the treehouse, it was open to anyone. It was, after all, god’s house. The cause of the fire is unclear, and according to a fire department spokesperson may remain so. “Unless somebody comes up and tells us they seen somebody doing it, you’d probably never know what started it,” Bobby Derossett of the Cumberland County Fire Department told local WKRN news. The Minister’s Treehouse is hardly the first divinely-inspired building to go up in flames; last year a fire damaged Wadsworth, Illinois's, 17,000-square-foot golden pyramid. The owners hope to rebuild an even bigger “luxury home [and] monument to the past” in its place. It was not immediately clear what the fate of the Minister’s Treehouse might be, as the pyramid left behind more salvageable remains.
Posts tagged with "Treehouses":
Jerry Tate Architects has revealed the design for a dynamic treehouse called the Biodiversity Nest to be built inside the Eden Project facility in Cornwall, UK. The London-based firm's design unites architecture and nature, much like the Eden Project's massive Grimshaw-designed overlapping geodesic domes comprising the world’s largest enclosed rainforest. The Biodiversity Nest, part of the new Rainforest Canopy Walkway project, will sit between two 52-foot-tall bridges in the Eden Project’s Humid Tropics Biome. The timber enclosure will provide a shady education space perched in the tree canopy. Due to a limited selection of materials that are able to handle such a challenging rainforest setting, the walkway and treehouse will be built of a galvanized steel superstructure and heat-treated softwoods as an alternative to unsustainable, though strong, tropical hardwoods, reported BD Online. The walkway will be constructed in several phases over three years with the first phase public launch set for June of this year. The Biome will continue to be open to visitors while the Nest is under construction. Further additions will consist of areas such as the “Weather Station,” the “Research Station,” and the “Waterfall Cave.” Architect Jerry Tate told BD that building the Biodiversity Nest for an incredibly humid environment "is an interesting technical challenge as we have to provide a spectacular education space which is comfortable for visitors in the rainforest environment, with a limited choice of materials that can cope with the aggressive environment." Tate is working with treehouse-builder, Blue Forest, a company known for building structures that echo the environment in which they are built.
Last fall Hurricane Sandy swept through New York with a vengeance, knocking down more than 8,000 trees city-wide, and over 300 in Brooklyn's Olmsted-designed Prospect Park alone. But now, Brooklyn Botanic Garden has teamed up with tree house architect Roderick Wolgamott-Romero to give a hand full of these damaged trees a second chance at life. The New York Daily News reported that Wolgamott-Romero plans to build a 200-square-foot tree house, which he has dubbed the "Sandy Remix," out of 10 oak trees salvaged from the Botanic Garden grounds. Raised 5-feet off the ground, the tree house will be located in the southern area of the Garden. Wolgamott-Romero said they have already built the brackets and foundation, and expect to be finished by April. When completed, the tree house will serve as a classroom for schoolchildren for a period of 18 months. A number of celebrities have commissioned Wolgamott-Romero to build his sustainable tree houses including Sting, Julianne Moore, Darren Aronofsky, Val Kilmer, and Donna Karen.
Last week at the Phaidon Bookstore in Soho, White Box held a benefit for their new sustainable art garden by organizing a panel discussion called "Sustainable Work Lab: new projects in art, architecture and urban design." Ali Hossaini moderated the discussion between landscape designer Frances Levine, architect David Turnbull, and urban designer Maria Aiolova. Hossaini yielded to Turnbull's freewheeling conversation about Socratic love, i.e. the coupling of poverty and invention. Inspired by his fresh-off-the-plane-from-Kenya presentation, the crowd indulged in the philosophical debate. Turnbull balked at biennials and instead encouraged artists "to make artifacts that are useful and have that magical quality that keep them from being thrown away." "Sustainability should be the bare minimum," concurred Aiolova. She should know. Her firm, Terreform1, held a sustainability love fest all summer long, which culminated in winning the Victor J. Papanek Social Design Award on August 17. Aiolova said that impetus for entering the Design for the Real World competition came after she and partner Mitchell Joachim were approached by Ron Labaco of the Museum of Art and Design (MAD). Though Aiolova was unaware of any financial aspect of the award, she seemed more interested in the conference to be held at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna in the fall, where Paola Antonelli will be the keynote speaker and the winning work will be exhibited. The exhibition will come to New York at MAD in the spring 2012, sponsored in part by the Austrian Culture Forum New York. There, the group will discuss "Urbaneering Brooklyn" at a symposium on social design. The model takes a look at downtown Brooklyn one hundred years in the future, a place where all necessities—food, water, and energy—are provided from within the area's boundaries. "We are projecting what the technologies are going to be to achieve the state of self reliance." For her presentation at Phaidon, Aiolova revisited the more practical aspects of some smaller scale projects, like the group's Fab Tree Hab designs, which combine a natural scaffolding made of vines with fully grown trees that are grafted to act as a support structure and columns. Aiolova acknowledged that the design may not be everyone's cup of tea, but for the client who wants to live off the grid, literally at one with nature, the Fab Tree Hab might hold the answer. What about the time it takes to grow the house? "It takes three to nine years for a good bottle of scotch," she said. Back at the studio, Terreform had just completed ONE Lab: Biodesign, a summertime boot-camp where architects, scientists, and artists met to explore design with living matter:
Treehouse of Worship. Everyone loves a treehouse, especially one that dates from 1696 (built in a tree that's over 800 years old, no less). Boing Boing uncovered the chapel in Allouville-Bellefosse, France dedicated to the Virgin Mary that was built in the hollowed out trunk caused by a lightning strike. Talking Tanks. Who can forget the Mayor of Vilnius, Lithuania who, fed up with cars parked in the bike lane, crushed the offending vehicles with a tank. Classic. Transportation Nation couldn't get enough of the car-crushing crusader, either, and has posted an interview where the mayor warns that tanks may return to the streets of Vilnius. Frank Llego Wright. Will we ever tire of LEGOs? I hope not. LEGO has already immortalized Wright's Fallingwater and his Guggenheim Museum in tiny plastic bricks, but Building Design just reported that the Prairie-style Robie House in Chicago is also available for architects and aspirants to assemble and adore. Baking Buildings. Some of the most beautiful historic (and modern, too!) buildings feature terra cotta facades, but whether they're ornate or sleek, we seldom have a chance to peek behind the scenes to see how the clay cladding is made. Buffalo Rising took a visit to a local terra cotta factory to check out what's involved.