March 24, 2001
9:03 AM   Subscribe

When I was a kid I built treeforts. One had 17 different platforms, in a giant willow tree. Another one was only reachable by boat. Only one actually had a roof. But now I want a real treehouse. And I guess I'm not the only one.
posted by rodii (27 comments total)
Tree houses are great. But when we get a bit older, we might specify what we want inside, such as
posted by Postroad at 9:17 AM on March 24, 2001

I want this one! How did it only take two months to build it?
posted by redfoxtail at 9:34 AM on March 24, 2001

I had a treehouse when I was a kid. Just a single platform, but we loved it. A friend of mine had a terrifyingly rickety three-story treehouse.

What I found fascinating on that kid's tree fort page was all the references to Hunnish marauders who take delight in wrecking tree forts. Advice on security, camouflage, reinforced walls...strange, don't you think? What's this world coming to, I would say, were I a little older and a little less clichephobic.
posted by kozad at 9:46 AM on March 24, 2001

Simply the best trees for building treeforts are Banyan trees. When my brother and I lived in Samoa, we used to scavenge lumber from the nearby neighborhood being built and build our own treeforts. Banyan trees have about 60% of their root structure above ground, so the winding and twisting root system made the perfect place to build forts with "rooms" and "jails". My older brother and his friends were much more sophisticated, creating entire "towns" with Banyan tree forts linked together with ropes, vines, and even a makeshift cable car system! Ah, nostalgia.
posted by at 9:49 AM on March 24, 2001

I actually stayed in a treehouse at this 4 star resort in Big Sur Ca. View of the ocean, view of the mountains and breakfast in bed. Life in a tree never looked so good.
posted by fiery at 9:51 AM on March 24, 2001

I just want a hut.
posted by auntbunny at 10:04 AM on March 24, 2001

My dad built us a treefort about 20 years ago, it had electricity, and cable, and we used to haul the ol' Nintendo up there on weekends and play Tecmo Bowl while trading baseball cards.

We just moved from that house last year and I imagine the new kids there enjoy the fort now just as much as we used to. Long live treeforts!
posted by Mark at 10:47 AM on March 24, 2001

Euch. Cheesy. They either look like houses that have fallen out of the sky and got stuck in a tree or houses on stilts with an occasional (almost unrelated) tree to one side. Take the Gig Harbour house - imagine what that looks like from the beech - a building looming out of the trees watching you. Opressive.

There should be a closer integration between house and tree. I don't see how this is possible for anything larger than a "treefort".

And I bet the inhabitants own cars...
posted by andrew cooke at 11:12 AM on March 24, 2001

Here's one in Iowa that just keeps growing and growing.
posted by justlisa at 11:13 AM on March 24, 2001

I used to build tree forts too. Most of the time in the back wooded lots near our house(s). Then my brother and I would "run" away if we were upset with our parents. We would pack dried fruit, fruit roll-ups, Oreo cookies, and some water and spend the night on our own. After the food ran out, we decided "running away" wasn't such a great idea, plus my mom always had dinner cooking knowing that we would return. Nothing like having the newest house on the block, that was under construction, "donate" some lumber, nails, hammers, etc. The thing was 99% was scrap that was already cut or in the dumpster so we didn't really consider it stealing. Maybe for the bundles of shingles but it sure was fun.
posted by brent at 12:48 PM on March 24, 2001

Weird. I just wrote a blurb about treehouses two days before this came out.... my hypothesis is that people like them [as adults] because they can imagine shedding all their worldly posessions and moving into one as some sort of hermit ascetic guru wizard type. It's also cool just to be taller than everything else.
posted by jessamyn at 12:57 PM on March 24, 2001

I'm in love with Michelle & Ratboy's pets! That's a nice little personal page.
posted by gimli at 2:00 PM on March 24, 2001

It was only ever fun building them though - playing in them was boring.

Bigger better faster huts.
posted by holloway at 2:34 PM on March 24, 2001

I had a treehouse when I was very little, it was already built when we moved into the house. I've wanted another ever since. We had a gigantic old tree right in our front yard where I wanted to put one, but fortunately I didn't. Nearly half the tree fell over during various storms while we lived there.

Is it wrong that I wanted the treehouse from the George of the Jungle movie?
posted by crushed at 4:36 PM on March 24, 2001

I wonder what Frank Loyd Wright would have designed. No doubt something interesting
posted by a3matrix at 6:42 PM on March 24, 2001

a3: he kinda did -- both his Oak Park and Wisconsin residences were partially built around trees. (And tree forms were the inspiration for the support columns of the S.C. Johnson administration building, and the core-and-cantilever construction of the Price Company Tower.)
posted by dhartung at 8:16 PM on March 24, 2001

gimli & postroad: wtf?

There's a "Treesort" in SW Oregon. Looks pretty cool.

I'd really love to build a treehouse someday and use it for an office or a guest house. Some of these houses are just amazing and beautiful. You really do need to treat these like other dwelling structures and think about the foundation and materials and sustainability.

Auntbunny: wouldn't you rather have a yurt?

Yurts are cool.
posted by amanda at 11:10 AM on March 25, 2001

Oooh, nice, Amanda.

I don't want to live in my treehouse, so jessamyn's hypothesis isn't really right for me. On the other hand, I want it for my shack—a place for work, privacy, contemplation and slacking—so maybe it does. Or maybe I just want a good place to take a nap.

I'm too far from the water to have a houseboat, but a treeboat seems to have some of the same virtues: light, air, soft movements, quiet. Add wireless networking and I'm set.

What I want to know is, what happens to treehouses as the tree grows? Are they slowly torn apart?
posted by rodii at 12:53 PM on March 25, 2001

I found this very pretty website which addresses tree houses and their effect on trees just a little bit.

I don't really know, though. It seems like it would eventually cause problems to the house but I suppose it would depend on how fast a certain tree grows.

Here's a Google Cache of a page which talks briefly about taking the tree growth into consideration.
posted by amanda at 2:16 PM on March 25, 2001

The "pretty website" link above actually sends you to page 2 of the FAQ -- oops. Use this link:
posted by amanda at 2:27 PM on March 25, 2001

The clamps designed by Ron (midpage) allow for growth and tree movement, with the added benefit of no nailing into the tree. With good engineering, a treehouse could be made to last a very long time. Builders of log homes have techniques such as sliding jambs for doors and windows, slip-joint plumbing, etc., which help to allow for the settling of the logs. Fancy treehouses might benefit from similar methods. Just guessing, but it would seem that minimizing the number of points of attachment to the tree would result in less stress to the structure and the tree.
posted by gimli at 2:32 PM on March 25, 2001

Wouldn't less points create a focus of pressure in a select number of places? More points of pressure means the pressure's spread out across more of the tree, causing much less damage.

Just a thought though, I've little to know practial tree-house building experience. Something I hope to seriously remedy once little ones come into my life. I always wanted a good tree house, but apple trees (all I had access to) just don't cut it.
posted by cCranium at 4:20 PM on March 25, 2001

When I get my treehouse built, you can all come and we can throw pine cones at the groundlings together.
posted by rodii at 4:58 PM on March 25, 2001

I think you're right, cC. It probably would be harder on the tree. I was thinking in terms of the growth stretching or torqueing(sp?) the structure or the structure impeding the growth of the tree by tying different parts together. Good weight distribution would probably be more important from the tree's perspective.

rodii, what's the password?
posted by gimli at 5:39 PM on March 25, 2001

"Baruk Khazad! Khazad ai-menu!"
posted by rodii at 7:51 PM on March 25, 2001

Uh... does that mean this guy gets in?
posted by gimli at 8:06 PM on March 25, 2001

A much less elegant example.

Watch out for the spit-take at the end of that link.
posted by norm at 4:29 PM on March 26, 2001

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