Save a tree. Build around it. That’s definitely an interesting way of looking at things. A lot of trees are cut down every day to clear the lot so houses and buildings can be erected. But is that really necessary? A lot of modern homes right now are being built around the trees present on the site. They feature courtyards that shelter the trees or they allow them to grow right through their decks and even their roofs.
Elongated Industrial Box
The renovation designed by He Wei in Beijing is such an example. The building has internal courtyards and corridors that accommodate the trees present on the site prior to the renovation. Not only that the design saves the trees but also brings nature into the hearth of the building.
The space that interests us the most is called a Zen Chamber. It used to be a backyard. It then became an extension of the office area (a converted factory space) and the trees present there were preserved and integrated into the new design. This area is a beautiful mixture of indoor and outdoor spaces that complement each other harmoniously.
Centennial Tree House
An old tree sits at the hearth of the Centennial Tree House. The residence is located in Singapore and was a project by Wallflower Architecture + Design. Completed in 2012, the house was actually built around an old and sculptural tree. The tree along with a piece of land were framed to form a large planter and then surrounded by an indoor pond.
This is the central courtyard of the house and all the interior spaces have access or a view of this space. An open roof lets sunlight enter the courtyard ensuring a healthy environment for the tree. Also, that’s not the only tree that was preserved when building the house. Several others were accommodated on decks and terraces.
When architect Alessandro Sartore was commissioned to design and build this house in Brazil, a challenge arose. There was a large tree right in the middle of the site. Instead of cutting it down, a decision was made to actually build the house around it.
The result was a house that has a huge tree trunk in its living room and a hole in the roof. A second tree was accommodated in the garage of the house. This is definitely a bold and unusual design choice, especially considering the size of the tree. There’s a bright side to having a huge tree in the living room. It’s large canopy provides shade and protection.
A similar case can be found in Mexico. The Tepoztlan Lounge is a contemporary residence built here by Cadaval & Sola-Morales between 2009 and 2012. The house is relatively small and it sits between the cliffs, being surrounded by forests. Instead of avoiding the trees, the architects decided to embrace them.
The trees grow through the floor and the ceiling of the living spaces. They bring the house closer to nature and make it a part of its surroundings. This design strategy allowed the trees to be preserved and at the same time gave the house a unique identity and a strong personality closely linked to nature and its beautiful surroundings.
Tree growing through the terraces
What better and more beautiful way to enjoy the holidays than in the middle of nature, surrounded by forests, trees and vegetation. That’s exactly what this Pretty Beach House in Australia promises. It’s situated close to the beach but the site is populated with dense trees. These beautiful native eucalypti are now part of the retreat’s charm.
You can see the trees piercing the wooden decks and growing through the terraces. Everything was carefully build around them without damaging their trunks or roots. The result is a beautiful and harmonious dialogue between architecture and nature, between the artificial and organic.
Ring around tree project
There are many other houses and buildings just like those presented so far. Another lovely example is the Ring around a tree project developed by Tezuka Architects in Tokyo, Japan. The name is very suggestive as the structure actually forms a ring around a huge tree.
The structure was built close to an existing school, and serves as a playground and a space to hold classes in. The trunk and the branches of the tree twist and turn and the benches, staircases and floors follow their lines and form a spiral around the tree. The project is an homage to nature rather than a way to extinguish it.
It looks as though this tree supports the house, more exactly its cantilevered terrace. The tree is like a guardian. It grows through the front deck and as it branches out it penetrates the terrace becoming a part of its design and layout. This is the Tea House, a lovely home located in Shanghai, China.
The house was built in the backyard of an office, on a narrow site which presented a series of challenges, hence the unusual form of the building. But as small and difficult as the site was, the owners wanted to preserve the tree that sat in the middle. At the same time, they wanted a spacious and open house so a decision was made to build the terrace around the tree. It was the work of Archi-Union architects.
Both the deck and its roof of the Lakeview Residence are pierced by large trees. Designed by Alterstudio Architecture in Austin, Texas, the house was completed in 2011. It’s spacious and it has a well-defined interior. The trees beautify the deck while the interior is defined by a different kind of beauty, closely related to the friendly ambiance and welcoming décor.
Full-height glass walls separate the internal living areas from the exterior deck. They let light enter the space while also connecting it to the trees, the wooden floor and the view of the garden. As seen from a distance, this residence manages to integrate into the landscape really well and that’s also thanks to the colors and materials employed for the facade.
Private residences aren’t the only ones that care about nature and want to save the trees. The Kook Restaurant is designed with a similar principle in mind. The interior was a project by Noses Architects in 2012. By far the most eye-catching and interesting design feature is a tree surrounded by glass walls.
The sits sits at the core of the restaurant. A square section of the floor and ceiling have been carved out to accommodate the tree. The skylights offer it the natural light it needs to stay healthy while the glass walls put it on display for everyone to see and admire. It’s a very interesting attraction. The restaurant attracts clients while also saving a tree. What a great combo.
It’s one thing to have a tree on the deck or even inside the house and something completely different to build your entire house around a huge tree. The project by A.Masov design Studio is very interesting in this sense. In a way, you could call this a reverse treehouse. It was envisioned as a transparent glass cylinder that wraps around a large tree.
A spiral staircase the four levels while the hole at the core accommodates the tree. The entire house is transparent and in a close connection with nature and its surroundings. The 360 degree panorama is amazing although it limits privacy. But this is not meant to be a cozy forest cabin but rather a sanctuary for getting in tough with nature and admiring its beauty.
Minna No Le’
Not all designs are so radical. For example, the residence by Mamm Design called Minna No Ie’ also has a tree growing inside it but in this case the tree doesn’t take over the whole house. Instead, it brings a touch of outdoor freshness inside and serves more as a decoration.
The residence is situated in Tokyo, Japan and it sits on a 4.5 meter by 12 meter site. Given the reduced dimensions of the plot, a vertical organization was needed. The house is envisioned as a tall tower, with a staircase connecting all the floors. Even so, there was enough room for a tree at the center.
The house has three floors and the indoor garden at its center is six meter high. Its role is to open up the whole house and to give it a casual and fresh look and atmosphere. A small cantilever shelters a tiny terrace and glazed doors offer a glimpse at the interior design and the garden room inside.
The Youth Wing for Art Education Entrance Courtyard
The Youth Wing for Art Education of the Israel Museum located in Jerusalem has a recently renovated courtyard which now accommodates a sculptural structure that resembles a treehouse. The new design revolves around a large pine tree. The tree is at the center of a small box-like structure supported by pillars and built around the tree trunk.
One side of the structure has a glass wall which lets those inside see everything that’s going on around them and also allows everyone outside to view the tree in its entirety. A set of spiraling stairs gradually connect the tree house to the ground level although there’s also a pole which can be used to get down faster.
White forest house
The Forest House is a residence in Toyokawa, Japan. It was designed by Studio Velocity and it has a diamond shape meant to maximize the usable interior space without interfering with the neighboring houses. The building was oriented in a way that allowed the trees on the site to be preserved. They now frame the structure and form small gardens along the walls.
Although the trees don’t actually become a part of the interior spaces, they share a very strong connection with the indoor areas. This is a different way of building around a tree in order to save it and integrate it into modern architecture. The suspended balconies, glazed walls and large windows are all complemented by nature.
Black house with lush inside
Three black layers of reinforced concrete form a shell around this residence in Fukuyama designed by UID Architects. The layers overlap one another and the sides feature glass walls that let in natural light and offer views of the exterior. The reason why this unusual shell was created was to allow the house to integrate nature into its design without losing privacy.
As a result, the interior spaces are concealed but the indoor area is nevertheless filled with natural light and plants. Various small trees and plants grow freely throughout the house while a skylight at the center offers them light and opens up the décor. The ground floor is the greenest of all, featuring gardens and raised flower beds that turn the whole area into a courtyard.
Concrete Corallo house
The Corallo House by PAZ Arquitectura is located in Guatemala, surrounded by a dense forest. The forest innevitably becomes a part of the residence, more so since there are trees growing right through its floors and ceilings. The design of the residence allows the the existing trees to be preserved and to interact with the living space.
There are no columns inside and the interior design is open and bright. Glass walls and partitions ensure a seamless connection between the functions and spaces while the trees help divide the floor plans and contribute to the overall layout and interior décor by adding texture to the design.
Seeing a big tree coming out of a house through the window can seen a bit creepy. But when you realize it’s not a haunted, derelict house overrun by nature but rather a modern home in harmony with nature and the land around it, it all becomes less creepy and more intriguing and admirable.
This house in Tokyo was built by Ondesign & Partners. The clients wanted the trees to be preserves and they were allowed to pierce the floors and the roof. Windows were positioned in such a way to allow the trees to stretch their branches outside without looking out of place. This unusual solution was chosen because of the lack of space. The site was too small to circumvent the trees so they were integrated into the building.