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Nautilus Treehouse, Seattle

Building a house in a tree isn't usually the first project you undertake after purchasing a new home. That's why it took ten years to bring this project to fruition. The idea for the treehouse came after the first spring in Seattle at this house where just one bright red cherry at the top of the tree stood out. At that moment, it was clear that a treehouse was necessary for two purposes: to access the cherries, and to enjoy the serenity and vista provided by treetop living.

The design of this treehouse became a research project as well. Handcrafted timber frame joinery was used as a template to explore how to build a strong, stilted structure that could be built on flood plane to withstand extreme weather events. The nautilus introduces a flow to the house from the bottom fan stairs to the top floor, providing an experience unlike most living spaces. But it's not just beauty that is alluring about the nautilus. The curves of the elliptical shape maximize the overall strength and resiliency of the structure.


The project also looked at how a treehouse can be energy efficient and livable year-round using Passivhaus design elements. Passivhaus elements include south, east, and west facing windows and gallery deck space. The tree canopy protects the roof and lower levels from the sun and heat absorption. During winter when the sun is lower in the sky, the windows get direct sun and contribute a natural heating element in the living space.

The added strength of timber frame joinery, the nautilus design and elements of Passivhaus provide strength while maintaining elegance and simplicity.

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