It’s a striking design, but one perhaps better off without the signature tree.
A nimble bearded gentleman ascended an 80-foot sequoia in downtown Seattle Tuesday afternoon and, as of publication, has refused to come down after a nearly 24-hour standoff with officials.* From this improbable impasse, a folk hero for the Internet age has emerged. His name?
Believed to be a local homeless man with apparent mental health issues, Seattle’s tree-scaling, apple-tossing renegade has captivated the attention of not just Seattle but the entire nation. While we continue to question his motives and ponder what it will take for officials to coerce him from his precarious perch, it becomes more and more apparent that there’s a little bit of Man In Tree in all of us.
Screw it. The world is a scary place. I’m just going to scramble up this here tree and not come down.
While the situation in Seattle has provided us a gift in the form of a much-needed distraction from an otherwise dark news cycle, it’s still a dicey scene for both the mystery man himself and emergency personnel. “We can’t spread out the trampolines and get out the tranquilizer gun as if he’s a bear … We’ll just have to wait him out,” observed one onlooker to the Seattle Times.
That being said, here’s a look at a tree-based living arrangement fitting for Seattle’s meme-generating scofflaw that’s not a public safety hazard.
This cylindrical glass dwelling is envisioned as a peaceful, harmonious escape from city life. (Rendering: A. Masow Architects)
Called Tree in the House, this conceptual dwelling from Kazakh architect Aibek Almassov of A. Masow Architects has been kicking around since 2013 but, according to Dezeen, just recently secured investors. (An early stab at financial backing reportedly fell through.)
Resembling a massive pneumatic tube containing a full-grown tree, Tree in the House is described as an “alternative to the bustle of city life” in the words of Almassov. “And more importantly it doesn’t do harm to environment. This is an opportunity to escape from the sweltering concrete boxes and feel the present unity with nature.”
One part see-through observation tower and one part classic glass abode in cylindrical form, Tree in the House offers four floors of living space. Each floor is accessible via a spiral staircase that wraps around the trunk of a mature fir tree. None of the ring-shaped levels offer that much floor space or a shred of privacy — even the shower is a transparent glass tube that mimics the structure.
An eye-catching design but perhaps a fir tree isn’t the best species to encase in a glass tube? Also, where’s the fire pole? (Photo: A. Masow Architects)
Heavens. Can you imagine shopping for curtains?
Eh, no need to imagine given that Almassov’s overall vision is a curtain-free one. After all, who needs privacy when you’re living in a glass tube in the middle of the forest? The point of his design isn’t to close oneself off to nature but to peacefully co-exist with it, right down to the fir poking through the living room floor.
“Climbing the stairs [in this] unusual house can be compared with the stages of spiritual purification, enlightenment, harmonising with the environment,” Almassov tells Dezeen.
And although I love the indoor line-drying arrangement depicted in the renderings, the seasonal needle shedding could lead to one huge headache. This is a home in need of a decent broom and a Dyson if there ever was one.
As for the aforementioned investors, Almassov notes that he’s currently in negotiations with a glass and solar panel manufacturer. Sounds like a match made in inverted treehouse heaven.
Aside from potential issues of deer voyeurism, one rather large concern would be that the centerpiece of this arboreal abode, the tree itself, appears more than a wee bit trapped. Natural light isn’t a huge concern, obviously, and the structure itself is elevated off the ground so that the tree’s base remains outside. But by enclosing a majority of the tree in a glass tube, canopy included, it is deprived of birds, insects, fresh air and other natural elements that it requires to truly thrive — it’s cut off from its compatriots, which isn’t fair. You can’t cage trees!
In addition to being not fair, it’s also a potentially fatal design for said tree. As commenters have pointed out, fir trees need a cold climate to survive, and Almassov’s design doesn’t appear to take this into consideration. If kept enclosed, the tree could be steamed alive and wilt away.
Whatever the case, it’s still a provocative design even not if entirely practical. It’s a fir tree folly. I’d say back to the drawing board with this one.
My suggestion? Perhaps instead of being centered around a tree, House in the Tree could just be surrounded by them. Even with the tree removed, you’d still retain the retreat-within-nature vibe and the stunning panoramic views. Or perhaps the dwelling could be built around a tree that thrives indoors. Or a very large fake tree. Added bonus: You wouldn’t have to spend 15 minutes sweeping needles off your bed before retiring for the night.
And in terms of all-important escapism, a tree-free House in the Tree would still be worthy of Man In Tree himself.
(P.S: Please come down safely, sooner than later).
* His 25 hours of Internet fame are up. As of 12:00 pm PST, the Tree Man is safely back on the ground where he was greeted by a team of police and paramedics. Given that his identity — not to mention his motives — remain a mystery, Seattle’s newest icon is not likely to fade away anytime soon. Here’s hoping he gets the help that he needs. As for the tree, it received no medical attention although it looks like it could use some love, maybe a proper hug, after the ordeal. Reportedly, it’s been a fixture of downtown Seattle since the 1970s when it was transplanted as an adult tree to a public square outside of the Bon Marche department store (now Macy’s) where it serves as a sort of perma-Christmas tree.