loeonard van munster under heaven illegal housing

At a dozen stories up, even a balcony can seem daunting. So imagine staying in a house in a tree on top of a twelve-floor building. OK, maybe not quite a house – more like a rickety wood shack built out of used crates. Scared yet? In that case: take a deep breath and we will start a few floors down first.

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loeonard van munster camping

After the prospect of spending the night a few hundred feet in the sky, camping in tents tied to three floors of city-street scaffolding (or hanging from a wall) suddenly does not seem quite so bad.

loeonard van munster parasitic architecture

Construction-grade metal supports provide the framework and basic level-to-level accessibility for this temporary parasitic abode, itself composed of repurposed tents, tarps and other camping-type material (which seems strangely out of place in this urban context. Alright, ready to head back up to the top?

loeonard van munster under heaven

A spindly tree supports the structure, tied down on all sides by thin cables visible at close range, but which fade at the street level. The effect is precarious to passers by, for whom this offbeat building looks to be on the brink of disastrous collapse. The tree house project, however, was temporary – taken down after being commissioned by a museum as part of a temporary installation.

loeonard van munster skyscraper tree house

Squatters in (or on) abandoned warehouses and industrial buildings in or around Amsterdam is nothing new, nor is the use of recycled materials that keep construction cheap for homeless urban dwellers. Still, Leonard van Munster likes to take things a step further (or higher) than most – this fragile-looking little dwelling was perched nearly thirty feet above the roof of a deserted building. Forget public housing projects – this is self-sufficient creativity at its best (albeit a bit more dangerous).

“Leonard van Munster is a Dutch contemporary artist making Site-specific and Subject-specific work. He studied from 1992 to 1996 at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam. This included an exchange programme to Parsons School of Art and Cooper Union in New York.”

“Van Munster’s installations are to be found mostly in public spaces, where the surroundings play an important role in the work and how it is experienced. Sometimes, he chooses a location that suits an already made sketch, and sometimes he makes a work especially for a specific location. Although his works at first glance have a cheery or boyish look about them, there is a more sensitive idea at their basis.”