Friday lunch recap 10/18/13: Designing a treehouse

Let’s say you’re designing a treehouse. What would you like to see in it? Are there any features you remember from a favorite childhood treehouse you’d like to see included (or updated)? How would you design it so that it could fill multiple purposes for multiple kinds of people (kids and grown-ups alike)?

We were considering questions like this during our Friday lunch community design session on 10/18 lead by designer-in-residence Kevin Gardner. Kevin’s working on the design of a treehouse that we’re thinking about building on the site of the El Moore, our residential project down the street from the Green Garage. (For more info on the El Moore, visit our wiki and check in the bottom left corner of the homepage.)


Kevin’s early in the design phase and wanted to turn to the community for input, as we have on many occasions at the GG. He gave a bit of background on the project, then asked for suggestions and sketched as we talked. Given the opportunity to think like kids again, the community’s ideas flowed freely. They included:

  • Make it bi-level: create at least two distinct spaces inside the treehouse.
  • Expand the space with fabric and light — create a tent formation in the trees above the house accessible by a ladder.
  • Add skylights for more natural light.
  • Since the site is very close to the sidewalk/street, connect the house to the street somehow. Create a swing out of reused materials, for instance, that reaches down almost to ground level.
  • Create some lookout spots for kids to be “sneaky” and spy on the neighborhood goings-on. Install a periscope?
  • Build in bookshelves and invite kids in the neighborhood to contribute to the book collection.
  • Keep simple toys inside that inspire creativity: wooden blocks, for instance. Encourage them to use the blocks to design and build their own mini-buildings.
  • Build some of the walls in such a way that they can be drawn or painted on.
  • Plant more trees on the site so that eventually, it’ll be more of a hideaway, nestled in greenery.
  • Encourage kids to bring blankets and sticks so that they can make temporary treehouses in the trees above and around the built structure, making it a temporary treehouse village.

Who’s ready to move in?

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