Get High - Treehotels

Written by Claire Quinn. Posted in Architecture

Getting close to nature is something that even the most hardened urbanite can tolerate when the design principles are right. Here we take a look at a series of magnificent ‘treerooms’ created by some of Scandinavia’s leading architects. The idea behind the Treehotel was to offer high-standard accommodation in an unspoiled setting where guests could truly engage with the peace and purity of their surroundings.

While the concept itself is not unique the inspiration and delivery of the Treehotel is. The project grew from a revisitation of the famous film “The Tree Lover” by Jonas Selberg Augustsén. A tale of three men from the city who rediscover their roots by building a tree house together, in many ways a philosophical story highlighting the tree’s importance to people, both historically and culturally.

Baring this in mind, the project’s designers chose the uniquely beautiful locality of Harads in Norrbotten County, northern Sweden. The site not only provides guests with seclusion and uninterrupted views over the Lule river but offers accessibility to the coastal city of Luleå. Initially five individually designed treerooms have been built at Harads, each one sitting between four to six meters from the ground.

The most striking of the five is certainly ‘The Bird’s Nest’, as the name suggests the exterior of the structure is a riot of branches and wood, concealing a beautifully designed interior.

An integral part of the Treehotel concept was minimal ecological impact. This drive in combination with the area’s pristine natural surroundings meant that substantial resources were devoted to finding both suitable energy solutions and sustainable construction. Despite these quite serious environmental considerations the five structures articulate radically different designs, each one presenting guests with a unique experience.

On arrival at the Treehotel guests start their experience with a friendly reception at Britta’s Guesthouse, a genuine Swedish setting from the 1930‘s. From there they proceed with a short, scenic walk to the treerooms, all of which are located amongst tall pines overlooking the Lule river. Each room is raised from the ground and guests enter either via a ramp, bridge or retractable stairs. Inside, each space has been individually designed with carefully chosen furniture, lighting and fabrics - rooms varying in size from 15-30m2. The daily operation of the rooms also incorporates as much energy efficiency as possible with each space containing an environmentally friendly combustion toilet and water efficient sinks. Like any good hotel guests can enjoy room service or join others at Britta’s guesthouse for meals served by the hosts themselves, Kent and Britta.

The project grew from a revisitation of the famous film “The Tree Lover” by Jonas Selberg Augustsén.

Unlike other hotels though, guests at the Treehotel choose their specific room from the five available - each one being dramatically different. ‘The Mirrorcube’ is a hiding-place among the trees, camouflaged by mirrored walls that reflect their surroundings. To avoid birds flying into the walls their surface has been cleverly covered with infrared film, invisible to humans but highly visible to birds. ‘The Cabin’ is a 24m platform high-up on the hillside overlooking the river valley where guests access it via a horizontal bridge in the trees. The most striking of the five is certainly ‘The Bird’s Nest’, as the name suggests the exterior of the structure is a riot of branches and wood, concealing a beautifully designed interior. ‘The UFO’ was designed with the intention of creating an environment that looked ‘out of place’; this flying saucer-style building can accommodate two adults and two children. Traditional and simplistic ‘The Blue Cone’ is a quiet wooden structure with three post-like foundations in the ground, giving it a sense of height and lightness. Guests enter via a bridge from the nearby mountainside and this building is well suited to people with disabilities. In addition to the five treerooms the Treehotel has a spectacular sauna for up to 12 people with a custom designed relaxation studio directly adjacent. The project is also currently expanding and 24 treerooms will be available in the Harads forest by 2012.

The warm and familiar atmosphere at the guesthouse in combination with the contemporary design of the treerooms provides the perfect balance between hospitality and privacy. The Treehotel offers a wide variety of both summer and winter activities but many guests choose to simply enjoy the stillness and harmony of the Harads forest. Stunning views, stylish accommodation and maybe a glass of wine is often all it takes in this Nordic wonderland.

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