Italy: Child’s Play

Italy: Child’s Play

High in a canopy of fir and larch trees are a set of small, cute, sharply angled timber and glass prisms. These are the coy children of Milanese architect Peter Pichler. The structures do a fair imitation of wanting to blend in, while at the same time, stand out just enough to win our attention.

Milan’s Peter Pichler Architecture recently unveiled a concept for simple, sustainable tree houses in the Italian Dolomites, 150 kilometres north west of Venice. The structures will be clad in black, and steeply raked, echoing the shapes of their arborial hosts. Their geometry is also very sympathetic to the sharp points, broken crests and ragged angles of the mountain crags around them. Floor to ceiling windows ensure that the spectacular view is uninterrupted. 

The tree houses provide new accommodation for a north Italian hotel. The project vision is to allow tourists to connect with nature in an immersive and sustainable experience that will allow them to “slow down”. Lines are clean and pared back. Nothing detracts from the boughs of the trees and the views of distant mountains.

The units range in size from 35 to 45 square metres and have two levels. Local timbers, painted black clad the structures and the honeyed tones of untreated fir will be used throughout the double-storied interior. A lounge connects to a sleeping area and small bathroom on the floor above and this is reached by an open-tred stairway.

Each structure is supported by a small concrete foundation and has a tank for collecting and re-using rainwater. Heating in winter is powered by renewable geothermal energy, which drives a small heat pump.

Pichler is no stranger to this corner of Italy. In the last five years the company has completed other projects in the Dolomites which have explored similar ideas to those expressed here. It was responsible for a mirror-clad guest house in South Tyrol and also created cantilevered huts of blackened wood for a restaurant at a mountain ski resort.