Thursday, 26 November 2009

Trees and Architecture i

Project: Yellow Treehouse Restaurant
Architect: Pacific Environment Architects
Location: Auckland, New Zealand
Completion Date: December 2008

If this isn't the best advertisement in all time I don't know what is. The idea of this treehouse project started as an advertisement for Yellow Pages. Now this is a company that print out billions of phonebook directories around the world annually, with each book containing hundreds of pages, despite the fact that more and more people are starting to use online phone directories. You wouldn't really call it eco-friendly, would you? So I guess that is the reason behind this advertisement, to enhance their image in a modern society that is obsessed with the sustainability trend.

The idea behind this "reality" TV advert, as you can see from the youtube video link and their website, is to prove that whatever you want to do, you can do it relying solely on yellow! To make it challenging, the chosen project was: "A restaurant. 10 metres up a redwood tree."

All products and services were sourced through Yellow Pages listings (the book, online and mobile) to build this treehouse restaurant on an enormous Redwood Tree which is over 40m high and 1.7 diameter at the base.

The tree-house concept is reminiscent of childhood dreams and playtime, fairy stories of enchantment and imagination . It’s inspired through many forms found in nature -the chrysalis/cocoon protecting the emerging butterfly/moth, perhaps an onion/garlic clove form hung out to dry. It is also seen as a lantern, a beacon at night that simply glows yet during the day it might be a semi camouflaged growth, or a tree fort that provides an outlook and that offers refuge.The plan form also has loose similarities to a sea shell with the open ends spiralling to the centre.

The selected site and tree had to meet a myriad of functional requirements -18 seated people and waiting staff in relative comfort complete with a bar; gaining correct camera angles with associated light qualities for filming the adverts, web cam and stills, have unobstructed views into the valley and entrance to the site and structural soundness . The final selected tree is one of the larger trees on the site and sits above a steep part of the site which accentuates the tree’s height. Kitchen/catering facilities and toilets are at ground level.

The Architectural component embodies a simple oval form wrapped ‘organically’ around the trunk and structurally tied at top and bottom, with a circular plan that is split apart on the axis with the rear floor portion raised. This allows the approach from the rear via a playful tree-top walkway experience, slipping inside the exposed face of the pod and being enchanted by the juxtaposition of being in an enclosed space that is also quite ‘open’ and permeable to the treetop views. There is also a ‘Juliet’ deck opposite the entrance that looks down the valley.

The construction of this amazing project took 66 days only! The restaurant is located on a private land, so the consent granted for this project was to permit diners onto the site only. Unfortunate for the sightseers who were just fancying a glimpse of this wonder. So for those who are interested in visiting this building, you will have to book in advance to dine there for an unforgettable experience.

More info and pics can be found here

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