Architecture Review Pop-up Competition 2016 – Play Tower
I was approached by my three-year-old daughter Ailbhe requesting a treehouse for her fourth birthday. Her brief was that it should be “tall, square and yellow (not pink!)”. As my wife is also an architect the brief was developed to include the requirement that the occupants should be visible at all times and access is controlled externally. As there were no suitably mature trees in our small garden, a traditional treehouse was not possible so we developed a Play Tower; a 1.6x1.6x4.2m stand-alone timber structure secured in concrete pad foundations. The untreated Irish larch timber frame and raised platform is accessed by a drawbridge operated by a manual winch. A twin layer of corrugated clear perspex forms a double skin around the frame, the resultant space between is a place for Ailbhe to store her trinkets, small toys, stones and a found disused bird’s nest. Steel cables are fixed to both gables to stabilise the frame, a proprietary awning stretched between the double skin walls forms the roof and is drained by a rain-chain. Internally a timber bench and table are operated on pully systems, the table is made from a road sign (fashioned from a school crossing sign) fixed on four re-purposed selfie sticks to form the telescopic movement allowing the table to fold into the floor when not in use. A Forbo Flotex: Autumn photographic printed carpet was used to line the floor and bench to allow a suitable surface free from splinters. A proprietary swing is installed below the tower which allows use while protected from rain showers. Planting of larch and rowan trees and other climbers (with yellow flowers) was undertaken to envelop the play tower over time.