What Is It?
Situated in the phantasmagorical landscape of the Italian Alps, this pine cone-shaped treehouse was designed to allow its occupants to lay out, gaze up at the enchanting night sky, and indulge in some panoramic views of the nearby mountains. Available as a holiday rental for nature lovers and escapists alike, the structure is located in the town of Ugovizza in the Dolomites.
Scattered all over the coniferous forests of Tarvisio — the same place where chief designer Claudio Beltrame’s studio resides — woody pine cones served as the main inspiration for the treehouse’s silhouette. Beltrame was inspired to begin the project in response to the rapid growth of, and his personal interest in, ecotourism. In keeping with that theme, he wanted to create the structure as a mimesis of its surroundings, encapsulating the pine cone’s natural elements and immersing occupants in some magical and unorthodox surroundings all at once.
Another inspiration for the pine cone concept was Philosopher Michael Foucault’s theories of “heterotopias,” or spaces that operate and exist outside the boundaries of society’s control.
“Shelter in a tree has always been the best place to dream, [they’re] man’s primitive place and a place of liberty and reflection.” — Claudio Beltrame
Suspended 10 meters above the ground and supported by surrounding fir trees, the structure is accessible via a wooden bridge. To replicate the pine cone’s scales, the home’s larch shingle cladding was cut into overlapping pieces, and its cross-laminated timber frame was molded into boomerang-like shapes before being insulated with breathable wood fiber.
The overall objective behind the aesthetic was to help the users feel more connected to nature, hence the building’s 360-degree windows, which are situated on the ground floor and provide picturesque views of the snowy, mountainous landscape outside.
Who Created It?
Claudio Beltrame is the Italian architect who produced the pine cone home in creative collaboration with DomusGaia, an Italian company that specializes in the production of prefabricated wooden homes. All the wood was sourced from the Alpe-Adria area, soon to be the world’s first organically-farmed bioregion.
The structure houses three levels. The second floor boasts large windows with sliding shutters in a covered balcony area, which provides increased shelter and privacy. Inside the pine cone home is a seating area, kitchen, and bathroom. On the third floor, you’ll find a double bedroom and a skylight in the ceiling.
What Is Ecotourism?
Sitting 1,200 meters above sea level in a UNESCO World Heritage site, this holiday let is just one of many treehouses sprouting up all over the world in a bid to advance the industry of ecotourism. Ecotourism is tourism that is directed towards the natural world, encompassing the conservation of communities and rural environments, sustainability, and ethical construction. Essentially, it ensures that locals and their resources are healthily-maintained and either unaffected or enhanced by new waves of tourism.
It aims to minimize the social, physical, psychological, and behavioral impacts on the environment — placing emphasis on traveler responsibility and helping to shape the future of our planet by teaching compassionate travel.