When you think of a chalet, edenic comfort is not the first thing that comes to mind. Yet these structures are hugely popular. But where does their real charm come from? You can find the answer to this question, among others, in Treetop Hideaways: Treehouses for Adults, published by Rizzoli, a collection of the most exciting examples from around the world. Here comes our book review!
The author himself, Philip Jodidio, begins his book by saying that when it comes to choosing accommodation or living space, these treetop structures are certainly not a common choice. Many of us shy away from high-altitude spaces, not to mention that these ‘houses’ lack adequate electricity and water supplies. Yet we all think of them as romantic places, perhaps even as childhood memories.
This unique construction was used by the Medici family in their Florentine castle in the 16th century and then by the Swiss Robinson family in the 19th century, and it is now easy to turn chalets into luxury hotel rooms, with many five-star resorts building bungalows among the tree branches.
However, the question as to why we are drawn to these relatively austere accommodations remains unanswered. Philip Jodidio examined thirty-six chalets from Norway to Texas. Two trends emerge from the examples presented in his book. One of these is a range of chalets that were built using modern materials and meet almost every possible need: running water, electricity and even internet access. And others seek to escape modern technology by choosing buildings nestled between tree branches, whose infrastructural isolation makes them the perfect place for a digital detox.
Some of the most spectacular tree houses in the book include the Treeful interior designed by Satoru and Maha Kikugawa in Japan or the Playa Viva treehouse in Mexico, designed by Will Beilharz and Artistree. We can’t forget the brilliant solution of the wooden house in Barryville, New York, which uses a generator and a wood-burning fireplace to power and heat its interior. But you only have to travel as far as Italy or Portugal to find wooden constructions inspired by pine cones or snakes.
No matter which group you belong to or which type of chalet you choose, the wooden houses in Treetop Hideaways can awaken the deep-sleeping child in all of us, as these unique chalets will captivate everyone from the youngest to the oldest.
Photos: Rizzoli, Maha Kikugawa, Rebelo de Andrade, Artistree Home—Kev Steele