Dreams aloft

Day after day in the trees

Go to the table of contents —by Sarah Arditti Lire cette page en français

Life in trees is an ode to nature worthy of the kind of fairytale painting which wins people over since antiquity. It is said that Caligula had a dining room built for him in the trees, in which he put on lavish banquets. This craze flourished under the Renaissance thanks to the Medici family. Indeed, François de Medici had a platform built at the top of an oak tree in his villa in Pratolino, equipped with spiral staircases, more than 25 feet above the ground. This “Fonte delle Rovere” was unique in having a water fountain for the guests.

This delightfully retro desire, having very much to do with one’s childhood, brings people back to their primordial roots. There it plays a rousing game of hide and seek in a flamboyant way, and its heart careens between a children’s playhouse and a hunters’ observation post. The tree is a reassuring refuge for thousands of years, the ultimate symbol of constancy. It is here that mankind can escape urban chaos and enjoy precious moments of an ancestral world.

This search for authenticity signs the wedding contract between tradition and extreme modernity. It is most definitely the result of combination of the exceptional expertise of famous architects and nameless artisans.

With their very successful book “Tree Houses”, Taschen takes us on a fascinating journey through the heights, like a movie shot in the branches of the finest achievements in the genre.

Tree houses are made in all kinds of different styles. Whether rustic, extravagant, futuristic, or even futuristic retro, big fans of wild romanticism, nostalgic for their childhood, are easily taken in by the features and extreme creature comforts including Jacuzzi, fully equipped kitchens and movie screens. For their part the more rudimentary cabins are a challenge suited for adventurous explorers.

Tucked away in this cornucopia of tree houses is the Japanese “Tetsu Teahouse”, built in the middle of cherry blossoms and designed to bow and sway on its support in a storm or in case of an earthquake. In an entirely different register, the “Jungle House” sets itself apart with its white organic shape.

Built on a tropical beach, it is set high among the trees on just a few metal pillars. These aerial wonders are set up in many different ways, they may be built on top of inclined wooden columns, suspended from strong branches, hung on the central trunk of the tree, or mounted on stilts. The tree house craze continues to grow at a fever pitch, so much so that they have become a way of life found around the world. “Green tourism” is at its peak and many city dwellers are abandoning bleak skies and urban pollution, trading it all in for a beneficial symbiosis with nature.

The book “Tree Houses” by Philip Jodidio lists 50 tree houses around the world. While leafing through the reader will enjoy, thanks to the illustrations by Patrick Hruby, captivating pictures and finely written texts, a vertiginous and captivating promenade between heaven and the earth.

—Sarah Arditti, chief editor of the art of life web site Paris Frivole

Luxury, nature and pleasure, between the sky and greenery

If you dream of spending nights in the trees, the «Cabanes des Grands Chênes» located in Oise offers this delightful opportunity: 03 44 58 39 08, 06 87 59 85 72,

In this issue: