Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Top 5 Strange Treehouse Engineering

The Lodge Tree house
not all tree houses are deep in the forest. All it takes is one good, sturdy trunk: This Scots Pine fits the bill. Derek Sanderson and his team at Amazon Tree houses fashioned the Lodge after an existing home on a plot in the Scottish Highlands, using a two-tiered support system of planks that hug the tree at both its midsection and near to the ground.
There's not a thing about this loch-side dwelling that isn't scenic. It's got plenty of water-facing windows that offer views and natural light. Its staircase, not to be outdone by the rest of the construction, runs between two large boughs of the pine as it leads up to the Lodge.
Tree houses such as this aren't cheap--an elaborate one like the Lodge can cost in the ballpark of $100,000.

Longwood Gardens
Another tree house by Jake Jacob and his Tree House Workshop, the Longwood Gardens abode in Pennsylvania looks more like a cathedral than anything else. It's supported by both trees and house-to-ground pillars, but the real challenge was installing a specially cut $38,000 window.
To get the job done, Jacob employed a block-and-tackle technique called "tree house rigging" that his team has helped pioneer. Basically, a sturdy tree is almost as good as having a crane on-site: "We use the trees that we're working in as pick-points for serious rigging," Jacob said. "Trees can help move a lot of stuff up, but also horizontally." Luckily there was a path running right up to the house, so Jacob and his team could transport the 12-sq-ft glass to the Longwood Gardens doorstep and install it.
The Longwood Gardens tree house accompanies three other tree houses already on the premises and acts as a rustic lookout point from which to enjoy the gardens.

The Cedar Spire Tree house
The Cedar Spire's castle-like look appeals to those of us who treated our tree houses as pirate forts and fantasy getaways. Derek Sanderson of Amazon Tree houses was commissioned to build Cedar Spire when a 500-year-old cedar tree on an estate in Scotland lost its largest limb to lightning, and the property owner wanted something to fill the gap. And why not patch it with a 45-foot-tall tree-castle, right?
Cedar Spire is as roomy as it looks, with enough space for almost a dozen people to enjoy a meal inside and on the deck. Its stained glass windows heighten its fairy-tale atmosphere. It also has a second floor, reachable by ladder, which Amazon Tree houses describes as an "ideal place for an exciting sleepover." For the adventurous, it also has a zip-line that leads to a tree 600 ft away.

The Lantern, located in California's Santa Monica Mountains is interesting for its use of copper. The house's builder Roderick Romero usually uses reclaimed and found wood exclusively. "I like to take something that has to be structurally sound, has to be engineered," he says, "and then work it so it looks natural." The design and name come from a trip Romero took to Morocco, where he fell in love with some ornate lanterns he saw. So he installed a top and bottom made out of copper commissioned from local church builders.
Using copper was a bit more difficult than wood, which can be more or less shaped on the fly by a skilled builder. Romero's team found that it had to send back pieces that were just millimeters off to be reworked.
Like Romero's Costa Rica tree house, the Lantern can serve as a humble living space with a lofted bed inside, and an Incinolet toilet that turns all of the waste into fine ash compost.

Greenwood Family House
Like many tree house builders, Charles Greenwood lives in one himself. It gives him a place to tweak and experiment--much like someone would in his garage. One result from his tinkering is the flexible feed you see in the picture above, which Greenwood installed to help compensate for the natural motion of the trees that support his home. Pipes can be problematic in strong winds, and the flexible plumbing, hidden under the stairs, works just as well.
Greenwood's home further accommodates its Douglas fir's swaying because it is mounted to the tree with flexible joints. Greenwood has lived in the 700-sq-ft home for four years; it has two small balcony decks, full plumbing, electricity and everything else you could want from a home on the ground. And his tree house rocks, literally.



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