Mirrorcube, Bird’s Nest and Blue Cone are all rooms at the newly opened Treehotel in Harads in northern Sweden. These are rooms with a difference – hoisted high up in Sweden’s Boreal forest, they are tree houses designed by some of Sweden’s most prominent architects. And they are becoming quite the destination for both nature and architecture lovers.
“We have bookings up until December so it’s going well,” says Kent Lindvall, who founded the Treehotel with his wife.
credit Andrea Barghi
It all started with the documentary Treelover by Swedish director Jonas Selberg Augustsén. The poetic film follows the crew as they try to reconnect with nature by building a tree house. It was filmed in Harads and the tree house is still there.
“I asked Jonas if he would let us rent the place to our customers,” says Lindvall. The tree house quickly became a popular destination, but as it was very basic, the idea of building one designed by architects was born.
Lindvall met Stockholm-based architect Thomas Sandell on a fishing expedition to Russia and popped the question by the camp fire. The response was positive, and now some of the biggest names in Swedish contemporary architecture are involved: Tham & Videgård, Sandell Sandberg, Mårten Cyren and Gustav Cyren and Marge Architects have all taken part in the first round. “Nowadays I get requests from architects from all over the world that want to take part in the next stage,” says Lindvall. The first six cabins were completed last year and another six will open in 2011 by Scandinavian architects – the first confirmed one is Sami Rintala from Finland.
Most of the tree houses were built off-site and heaved up onto the platforms in the trees. No trees were felled and every care was taken to keep the natural environment intact.
“You can’t drive cars into the forest,” says Lindvall. “Instead, it is a 400m walk on a path from the old hotel up to the tree houses. We like this idea of entering the forest on foot.”
Despite having all the mod cons, the tree houses are suitably low-key in their design. Tham & Videgård’s Mirrorcube is like an optical illusion. Its sides are covered in mirrored glass panels that reflect the surroundings in such a way that its existence is virtually concealed. Blue Cone is constructed in wood with a facade of split birch. It sits on a support attached to the surrounding pine trees and is accessed via a bridge connected to the hillside.
“The Treehotel works a little bit like an art exhibition,” says Johnson. “But here the difference is that nature becomes the gallery.”