For the Birds: Fairytale Treehouse in a Calgary Forest
Many of us see an escape to the woods as a chance to reconnect with nature. Surrounding yourself with trees, mountains, fresh air, rivers, and wildlife gives you an opportunity to go back to basics, especially for the city dwellers among us whose pace of life is moving ever more quickly. The allure of mountain cabins and treehouses have long been the stuff of idyllic fantasies for urbanites, and now, a new project by the Calgary-based design firm Studio North aims to give its users the ultimate immersive experience. Their new fairytale treehouse is located in the dense forests of British Columbia near the village of Windermere in Western Canada’s Columbia Valley. This mountainous nook is the perfect home for their creation — a triangular-shaped timber hut perched on an X frame that elevates it off the ground and puts it among the low canopies of the surrounding trees.
The Bird Hut takes the shape of a pointy A-frame, with steep pitches on each side resting on the timber stilts that prop it 2.7 meters above the forest floor. The gable end is clad in red cedar shingles that are almost cartoonish in appearance, like an illustration you’d see in a children’s story book. They lend the hut a whimsical and endearing quality. The shingles have also been custom-cut with several openings to allow birds in, making them of some of the treehouse’s most defining features. These circular openings range in size to accommodate all twelve species of birds in the area, from large pileated woodpeckers to petite warblers. The concept is that the two-person hut can be shared with the local wildlife and that the birds will be drawn in by both the presence of these “birdhouses” and the nature of the structure itself.
“In addition to being an inviting place for people to nest, the whimsical facade has twelve birdhouses, each designed for various local birds that live in the mountains of the Columbia Valley. The materials, form, and orientation of the Bird Hut were designed to offer nesting opportunities for as wide a variety of local birds as possible,” explains Studio North. The firm also looked to the vernacular identity of Canada for inspiration when designing the construction of the hut. “Mimicking the process of a bird building a nest, the materials of the Bird Hut were scavenged from the immediate surroundings. To give a sense of being in the canopy of the trees, the roof of the Bird Hut disappears with clear, eight-millimeter polycarbonate panels. As a result, the space is passively heated by the sun, acting as a kind of greenhouse that is passively ventilated by the two circular windows,” they add.
The treehouse is very cute and quaint, and internally, it’s been adorned little planters and plywood walls to give the space some warmth and connect it to the exterior. Two large circular windows further this connection by providing views out into the woods beyond. The hut is accessed from a bridge, and down below, there’s even a path that leads visitors to a campfire and a natural spring for the true Canadian camping experience.