Freelance writer Blythe Copeland turns out tips for a sustainable lifestyle for TreeHugger and PlanetGreen.com, where she writes about DIY crafts, fashion, beauty, books, music, and more. Currently, she lives in Baltimore with her husband and two cats — but since she's relocated to four different cities in the last three years, she spends a lot of her free time on easy (and inexpensive) decorating and sewing projects.
If you hear "treehouse" and think "Swiss Family Robinson," then you're missing out on some of the coolest — and greenest — dwelling ideas out there. And while they're not all as luxurious as the digs most of us are used to, treehouse designs are full of innovations that make the structures more practical than you might think.
This nearly invisible treehouse (above) by Tham and Videgard Hansson uses mirrors to cover the outside of the structure, allowing it to blend in with its forest surroundings (though since the plans don't show a bathroom, expect to do some climbing on a regular basis).
On the other end of the size scale, we have Horrace Burgess' 10-story treehouse — the world's largest — with 10,000 square feet of living space built from recycled and reclaimed lumber. German company Baumraum designs treehouses with a twist — and we mean that literally: their design for a giant redwood includes a spiral staircase that climbs the massive tree. Brazilian firm Casa Na Arvore turns out family-friendly dwellings that even the Robinsons would envy.
Photo by O2 Sustainability
Treehouses made from reclaimed or FSC-certified wood (which is certified sustainable by the Forest Stewardship Council) aren't the only option, though; the O2 Sustinability Treehouse from designer Dustin Feider is made from sustainable materials — and you can install it yourself on any trunk. And scientists at MIT Media Lab's Smart Cities Group are working on building homes not just trees but out of them, creating useful structures out of living treehouses. Of course, as this post points out, there's "One major obstacle: to get a living treehouse to raise your budding family in, your own parents would have to contract the 'building' at your own birth."
Photo by Hapuku Lodge
Not ready to make your treehouse home a permanent one? Try a treehouse hotel for your next vacation, such as the Hapuku Lodge in New Zealand, and cut the carbon footprint of your travel plans without losing any of the adventure.
Thanks to Planet Green for sharing their favorite sky-high homes.
Have you seen an inspiring treehouse? Tell us about it in the comments below.