28.4.2023

Tree House

The Studio MEMM project for the Tree House emerged as a playful idea. In a moment of family expansion, with new grandchildren and nephews, the client understood that the ludic universe of the tree house could add to the experience of staying in Monte Verde, Minas Gerais.

When this project schematic design was first presented, the client realized that the tree house, initially conceived to gather the children, should also be oriented to the family adults. As the older members realized they wanted to use (play) there as well, Studio MEMM aimed for a new goal: to materialize the beauty behind every tree house. Such buildings can flourish in every person a playful inner self, independently from age. Architecture had to become a floating magical space in the woods, where family generations could enjoy time together on this getaway, scaping from the city.

Before starting the project’s conception, it was necessary to choose the tree and understand its context. The client already had in mind options in an area near the lake on the site. Around it, programs such as a pool annex, a deck, a natural pool, and the new house would fence the surroundings of the body of water. The garden, densely populated by numerous tree species, brings privacy and ambience to each program around the wetland area. Added to this, a gentle, continuous slope extends across the land, so that the surroundings of the lake are arranged in gentle plateaus.

The closings of the tree house were designed as glass planes, allowing a stronger relation between interior and exterior. To attach the glass on the façades, the frames, initially conceived in wood, were replaced by aluminum ones, due to their more slender character. With a dark graphite finish, they stand out from the wood, emphasizing the limit between the built and the void. In addition, these frames contribute to the drainage of the water that runs down the facades, avoiding the creation of puddles on the lower parts of the frame, which in the case of wood could be deteriorated over time.

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Inspired by the geometries of the surrounding sycamore leaf structures, the brise soleil were industrially built with glued laminated timber, cut in a CNC system. Installed in the interior, and surrounding the volumes, this element embraces the guest and creates an impression of a dome that contains this entire universe apart in the interiors, instigating immersion and disconnection from the external world, transporting the user to a shelter that allows them to experience a feeling of unrecognizable enchantment.

The house is composed of two volumes positioned among the tree branches. The first and smaller module, 4 by 1.5 meters, is a reception and support space that had its original position preserved. The second, with 4 by 3 meters, was made to receive the permanence activities, and had to be displaced to accommodate the torsion of the trunks that, as they gain height, change position. Besides these structures, there are two walkways: a smaller one, which connects the two modules, and the large walkway – responsible for gently regulating the terrain slope and connecting the tree house to the main property promenade.

The lighting not only highlights the architectural beauty without harming the natural darkness, but also aims to contemplate the trees that surround the residence: the light spots placed on the ground level reveal the trunks and tree tops. The softly lighten branches and leaves filter the dark sky above. In the interiors, light fixtures were installed on the floor, washing the brise soleil from bottom to top, bringing light, instead of shadow, to the lower part of the geometries. The solution emphasizes the view of the inside from the outside of the house, and contributes to the discovery effect of the element in the heights.

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