The battle between architecture and nature has intensified in recent decades and for many there is no reconciling the built environment with the natural landscape.
Working with landscape designers to Integrate vertical walls and green rooftops into their buildings aside, architects generally get a bad rap when it comes to being seen as nature lovers, working co-operatively with the surrounding natural landscape.
A group of Scandinavia’s leading architects however, have designed some remarkable little buildings or rooms for the Treetops Hotel in the forests of Swedish Lapland that challenges this misconception.
At present there are five hotel rooms, nestled thoughtfully into the forest in Harads, near the Lule River. Ultimately twenty four rooms are planned. Clever siting and design obscures their ground level entrances and they appear to be floating in the forest. The rooms have all been designed around the principles of sustainable construction and energy solutions, nature, ecological values and comfort married with contemporary design.
The rooms, inspired by the film, The Tree Lover by Jonas Selberg are suspended 4 – 6 metres above the ground and have minimal environmental impact. The philosophy behind the hotel is to “experience nature on nature’s terms” and all have achieved a minimal ecological footprint.
The Cabin was based on the idea of creating a platform high up on a steep hillside overlooking the Lule River valley. The room is like “a capsule, a foreign body in the trees.” The room is reached via a horizontal bridge, a long, interesting among the trees.
The Mirror cube is like a hideout among the trees, camourflaged by mirrored walls that reflect their surroundings. The base is an aluminium frame around the tree trunk, with walls covered in reflective glass, clad with infrared film, invisible to humans, but visible to birds.
The Bird’s Nest is built is built on the contrasts between the outside and inside. The exterior, like a giant bird’s nest provides camouflage and the occupants quickly disappear and become part of the surrounding forest. The luxurious and spacious interior is accessed via a retractable ladder.
The Blue Cone is based on simplicity and accessibility, both in terms of the materials and design. The room is a traditional wooden structure with three supports in the ground to give a sense of height and lightness, but also stability.
The UFO in contrast to the Bird’s Nest which is largely in harmony with its surroundings is reminiscent of childhood fantasies and is cast in a durable composite material to create the lightest, yet strong and sustainable design possible.
The beauty of these small architectural gems is that they have been created for use by holiday makers to increase the calm, simplicity and the enjoyment of the beauty of the unspoilt environment. This is contemporary architecture that is quirky, clever, eco- friendly and accessible, where the retention of the natural, unspoilt environment is the essence of each design.