No tinkerer has ever lived who has not at least thought about building a treehouse. I haven't built any of these, but I will.

There are two models for treehouses. The first, I call the Castle Model, is basically a regular house in a tree. The support for the structure comes from below, usually in the form of a shelf supported by branches.

The second model, and the model I prefer, I call the Bird Cage Model. In this model, the support comes from above, with the structure suspended below.

The advantages of the Bird Cage Model is that it puts the structure in tension, rather than in compression. This eliminates the posibility of buckling, so the structure can be that much lighter. It is also easier to build - just build it on the ground and haul it up into the tree with a pulley.

The following tree house was designed before I realized the advantages of the Bird Cage Model. If I were to build it today, I'd redesign it to "hang", rather than to "sit".

Treehouse drawing

The structure is 8' x 8' x 17' high. The second floor is entirely enclosed, while the first floor is entirely open. Access is via a ladder attached directly to the trunk of the tree (on the opposite side in the image, so you can't see it). As it was designed to be in use year round, it is provided with a small wood stove.


© 2003 W. E. Johns