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Tree House
Crossways Farm Village, Thornhill, Gqeberha (Port Elizabeth) district, Eastern Cape

Michael P (Mike) LOUW: Design Architect
Michael P (Mike) LOUW: Project Architect

Type:Tree House

The treehouse at Crossways Farm Village was originally conceived as a weaver bird's nest suspended in one of the trees on the estate and it clings lightly to the trunk of a large Eucalyptus tree on the edge of a kloof. Its only contact with the ground is via a lightweight steel ramp leading up to it from the adjacent slope. The treehouse was primarily designed as a viewing point for marketing purposes and for bird watching by future homeowners, but will also be used to house stage lighting for an outdoor amphitheatre that will be constructed in due course. It has a diameter of roughly three metres and can accommodate approximately ten people at a time. It was constructed primarily of steel to keep the size of structural members to a minimum and to minimise the impact on site during construction: The steel structure was manufactured off site and was assembled and cladded within one week without the use of scaffolding or any heavy machinery - this includes the ramp, which was connected using a standard vehicular towbar with a chain brace on either side to allow for movement in all directions when the tree moves during strong winds. There are no fixings into the tree itself and the only fixings are adjustable steel collars that can be loosened over time as the tree continues to grow. No branches were removed to accommodate the treehouse and instead, they are allowed to penetrate the skin of the structure, which consists of treated bluegum saplings harvested from eradicated alien vegetation (all the smaller alien trees on site will be removed, and only the larger ones will be retained). The saplings follow the teardrop shape and they help the structure to blend into the environment, while also accentuating the sharper lines of the steel members. This unique structure demonstrates how the innovative use of shape and materials can serve as an attractive focal point in an already spectacular natural setting.

Structural Engineer: Deon BOTES
Contractor: Nick ANDERSON

(Mike Louw - April 2013)

All truncated references not fully cited below are those of Joanna Walker's original text and cited in full in the 'Bibliography' entry of the Lexicon.