How and when did you learn about the project?
Being from Hechtel-Eksel myself, I already knew that there is much to discover in this green environment regarding walking, cycling… and other recreational opportunities. Recently, a hike through Bosland brought me to a gem hidden behind the trees.
What was your first impression?
Curious as I am, I went to see what exactly it was. To my surprise, behind these trees hides an impressive building in a beautiful open field, namely The Treehouse. I remembered hearing about it once and seeing some pictures, but when I saw it in person, it was quite a stunning design on tall stilts, just as the name suggests: a kind of treehouse.
What appeals to you about this project?
After discovering the building, an information board in the open field caught my attention. This sign told me that The Treehouse is an ambitious project that wants to encourage companies and organizations to engage in sustainable entrepreneurship. The tree house can serve as a meeting room, a place for brainstorming sessions… and serves as a base for scientific research. I found the concept of meeting at height in a beautiful place among the trees very interesting and wanted to learn more about it.
Do you know the design vision behind the project?
The wooden house is the result of a collaboration between the paper manufacturer Sappi, the municipality of Hechtel-Eksel, the Norwegian Nature and Forest Agency and the communications agency Proximity BBDO. These four partners want to encourage companies, politicians and organizations to work sustainably in their daily activities. The design is by the German architect Andreas Wenning (architect firm Bauraum), who designs similar structures among the trees from Germany to China.
In The Treehouse you will find a furnished meeting room that can accommodate 15 people, as well as a kitchenette and toilet. Companies or organizations brainstorming on sustainability or innovation can rent the premises. Photographers also know where to find The Treehouse and see the building as a unique and photogenic backdrop. The location has attracted the attention of film crews several times. Several episodes of the popular VRT program ‘Dieren in Nesten’ have already been preserved here.
The treehouse is constructed as a pleated sheet of paper that encloses both indoor and outdoor spaces. The building is based on five elements: two cabins on different levels, connecting terraces, a staircase and a connecting roof. The lower cabin has a coffee room, kitchenette toilet and utility room.
The upper cabin is dedicated to meetings and other events befitting this beautiful space among the trees. The sofas are covered with soft cushions and surround the room, which immediately results in a comfortable and relaxed feeling that encourages people to stay longer.
All equipment uses the existing facilities (green electricity and water purification) at the nearby museum or is self-sufficient (heat pump). The latest techniques are used for the heating and cooling system, whereby heat is converted into a liquid that is transported via pipes to the heating units under the benches. The result is a comfortable, pleasant climate and energy costs remain very low.
In summer, the system can also be used for cooling. To minimize energy consumption, all lamps are LED. Daylight and motion sensors are integrated into the LED fixtures in the toilet.
The cabins and upper terraces are supported by a total of 19 steel piles. Each post is connected to the ground below with foundation screws that have minimal impact on the ground. The plateau level at the staircase (and the staircase itself) is suspended by pulling cables from a tree, which now becomes part of the supporting structure. The cables themselves don’t really stand out due to the environment, making it look like the plateau is floating.