chapter ii

chapter ii

10.17.2010

A very, very, very fine house...

"This treehouse stands on a Star of David-shaped platform and is like a crystal ascending to the heavens."--Takashi Kobayashi, founder of Treehouse Creations and Japen's leading treehouse designer-builder 

Much of my childhood prior to the age of about 12 was spent in some pretty top-notch treehouses, no thanks to me. They may not have been "crystals ascending to heaven," but no doubt had uniquely special qualities of their own. Having grown up on a street that consisted of mostly boys [darling+hilarious], I reeped the benefits of their hardwork and sweat. (Not to mention the exhilerating thrill of ambushing unsuspecting cars driving down our street with an onslaught of hot pink and orange paint balls launched mysteriously from perfectly placed thickets with easy access to an escape alley. On the rare occassion we were caught...the girl always got to go home, the boys punished. I guess I was always just an observer but nevertheless felt guilty for getting away with having so much fun.)

Anyway, I didn't go as far as playing some kind of pirate or cowboy or any other role for that matter in whatever kind of treehouse games they played. Rather, I typically showed up as the sun was going down and the sleeping bags were going up to be layed out as a palette. We'd drag a bright orange extension cord basically from inside and all the way across the yard, wind it up to a place in the trees where there should probably never be a TV. However, it made for the absolute best place to watch a movie. It really was magic. Being up in the air, as close to the top of the tree as those little boys' hands could build, encased in this little place that really felt like our own.

And while they let me tag along for certain activities- the aforementioned paintballing, hide and seek, Christmas tree forts, etc. I was left on the sidelines for street hockey, football, and jumping their bikes off of high self-built ramps. Those were the times when I'd switch from gossiping on a faux phone to my countless imaginary best friends, put the [plastic/rubber] baby down for a nap ["thank goodness she's finally tired."], and leave my light pink wooden playhouse for a fun little place up in the trees.  I could read and draw and basically just do whatever, happily without running the risk of splinters thanks to those boys finding mixed pieces of carpet to put down-- really spruced the place up. 


Anyway, again I have far too thoroughly become carried away with why this month's Architectural Digest struck a fun chord in me. Nor could you have imagined that that was where I was going with all of this. But, some of the coolest places they featured all have very intentional and clever inclusions of nature--in addition to the actual treehouse by Takashi Kobayashi that stemmed all of these memories. I just loved looking through all of their choice spots. 
This is a five-story house in Japan, designed by Kengo Kuma. "It reflects his talent for combining geometric forms with natural materials and traditional Japanese elements." Below were two of my favorite parts-- a very very cool table called a "chabudai" that I would love nothing more than to sit down in--because that's what it is- a low table (sorry the picture doesn't do it any justice to how cool it is),  and enjoy sashimi and noodles....all day every day, when not otherwise occupied by the indoor infinity lap pool. 
And then, below, this amazing structure was designed by an architect named Wendy Evans Joseph, and here's the kicker....for her husband. Best wife ever? Her husband is a scientist-- of the molecular, genetics, and immunology type---and hired his wife to create a weekend studio for him. It's a 525-square-foot rectangle with an 11 foot ceiling. The exterior is cedar panels stained in matte black, copper, steel, and glass. "A technology-packed basement gives no hint of its existence. Accessible only via a trapdoor hidden under the rug..." !!! Trapdoor hidden under the rug? Yes. Please. 
"My weekends are the only times I get to be alone with my thoughts," he observes, "and I now have an environment that allows me to more readily formulate the questions I want to address scientifically." I love when space effects an environment so clearly....
This house on Fishers Island, is a rebuilding project after losing the original house in a fire. "I got it into my head that I wanted to live in the garden with my art" the husband Tom Armstrong said. Fantastic idea. Who wouldn't want the same? So the architect, Thomas Phifer, set out to create a space where the "house and garden would feel continuous." And succeeded in creating what Armstrong deems "A glass shoe box." A husband comfortable with the idea of living in a shoe box? Also fantastic. And while I really like interiors that have dialogue between old and new, the idea of having a dialogue between the right now and a nature that exists without concern for what you're up to (unless you're hurting it)has sort of a mesmerizing quality. 
"I think it's important to land lightly...I like to pare down until it's almost nothing. Every little detail and cross-section matter, and I whittle away until it barely stands up. That's when I stop." --Thomas Phifer


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