These days you can buy treehouse plans online or hire an architect to design (and contractor to build) your own custom contemporary home in the trees. However, many of us remember the tree houses and forts of our childhoods – those ones that were more about do-it-yourself construction without much of a plan. Beyond those though are the true tree homes built to be lived in all year round.
In some parts of the world and periods of history, the make-your-own approach has been more about function than fun. Some populations live mostly or exclusively in tree dwellings that range from simple and low-tech to towering structures at dizzying heights of up to 120 feet in places like New Guinea. The height, materials and overall designs of each treehouse reflects regional weather conditions and natural hazards.
Tree house living has added security benefits, gives greater access to sunlight above tree lines and is often possible with low-tech construction techniques, local natural materials and even a single dedicated builder. There are of course potential problems with weather damage and tree growth over time but this is not so much as issue for structures built to be temporary lodgings in the first place.
While for many of us the idea of having a space to call home in the trees sounds like a luxury, there are places in which and people for whom this is a tradition like any other. Such traditional treehouse designs may not be as luxuriously accommodated as their architect-designed counterparts but they are well-planned in their own ways and are frequently far more eco-friendly as well.