Life among the treetops
Anyone who ever dreamed of having a genuine treehouse as a child will soon have the chance to live in a deluxe version near the Austrian town of Kitzbühel.
Milan architect Peter Pichler is slowly but surely establishing himself as the official Treehouse King: after recently presenting a spectacular hotel project in the treetops of West Virginia, he is now embarking on an equally exciting project in Austria.
Dream house in the sky
Not far from the Austrian ski resort of Kitzbühel, his architectural firm is responsible for designing a whole host of unusual buildings high up in the surrounding forest. Under the name “Tree Suites”, Pichler has designed treehouses of different sizes which are intended as extra-luxurious accommodation for a 7-star hotel development. They are expected to offer well-heeled customers the ultimate experience: living among the treetops. Or at least for the duration of a high-end holiday.
Of course, it stands to reason that future guests will not have to climb up a ramshackle rope ladder – instead, there will be an elegant glass lift to whisk them up to their treehouse at the touch of a button. Rather than traditional luxury, the suspended “hotel rooms” will offer the highest level possible in the natural surroundings.
Where nature means luxury
By using simple, regional materials in his designs, Peter Pichler aims to appeal to people’s senses and to activate them: “What I’m interested in doing is slowing down the pace of life up among the treetops and allowing people to experience time more consciously. I want to create a unique spatial experience surrounded by nature. An experience that can never be forgotten.”
Accordingly, the main driving force for this project was the possible connection between people and nature. And what better place to build a bridge between these two worlds than in the midst of branches, leaves, birds and pine cones?
Needless to say, the materials used follow this same logic – having wood as the dominant element aims to create a warm, homely feeling. The structures also feature plenty of glass, allowing a relaxed view of the treetop surroundings. At the same time, the design largely avoids metal and various plastics. As well as this, the appearance of the different-sized treehouses adapts to a specific guideline: the suites, which measure between 60 and 80 square metres, are built on diagonally interlocking wooden load-bearing systems that are designed to blend in with their natural surroundings. In other words, the interwoven wooden elements aim to resemble the tangle of natural branches.
Forest-floor shadow play
This intricate, gable-like structure is also surrounded by a second layer of intersecting wooden slats that generate a very special indoor climate inside the suites by day. The gaps that appear in the outer shell create playful light and shadow effects in the rooms – the kind of effects that are otherwise only created by leaves and branches on the forest floor. But at night, the same slats light up the forest treehouses like giant lanterns.
Incidentally, the two room categories have different appointments – although both have a bathroom, a bedroom and an enormous glass front that opens directly into the treetops, only the larger 80-square metre suites have an additional living area and a warming sauna.
Built-in wellness factor
Anyone who is looking desperately for a wellness oasis can choose one of two options. Option A: According to the architects, the forest itself contains the greatest wellness factor of all. Option B: The future hotel operators say that the spa and restaurant areas in the nearby main hotel will also be open to the treehouse guests.
In any case, the fact is that Peter Pichler’s project in West Virginia follows a similar philosophy, i.e. it endeavours to establish nature as the ultimate good. And this way of thinking that is catching on – so much so, in fact, that a similar treehouse concept may well also be carried out in the Dolomites. In any case, Pichler’s firm has already been commissioned to plan a third project of this kind.
So all that is left now is to officially crown him the Treehouse King!