Design practice Studio Precht has created a series of truncated timber treehouses for eco-building start-up Baumbau. The concept was created by Chris Precht and his wife Fei Tang Precht as a family of modular houses that are shaped by playfulness. Called Bert, the project was conceptualized as a treehouse shaped by the forest itself. Bert invites people to experience architecture and nature through the eyes of children.
Bert is the first collaboration of Precht with Baumbau, a start-up that specialises on tiny homes, treehouses and buildings for alternative tourism. As Chris Precht stated, “We took a playful look at this project and wanted to create a rather unique character than a conventional building. A quirky looking character that becomes part of the wildlife of a forest. I think this quirkiness can create feelings and emotions. And maybe these are attributes in architecture that are missing these days.” Bert aims to avoid ubiquitous building types that have become "a copy of a copy of a copy."
Bert builds on the idea of more more diverse, climate appropriate and culturally defined architecture. “We know that buildings like Bert are not the path forward on a big scale, but I think as an industry, we need to dare more, try more and experiment more towards a more diverse future of our cities,” says Chris Precht. The modular system of Bert was designed to make it easy to react to a client’s brief in real time. The client informs the architects about the desired program, like bedrooms, kitchen, living room, library and bathroom, after which they can make immediately different variations of arrangements with all necessary information of cost, size, schedule, etc. The resulting building is made with a minimal footprint and stacked functions that branch out in different directions.
‘We believe that future of tourism is not in large hotels and mass tourism, but rather in special buildings that offer a unique experience. With Bert, we cater to the people who seek adventure, nature and inspiration’, says Rudolf Obauer, CEO of Baumbau. Bert is the first treehouse conceptualized for Baumbau. “During the next months, we will announce further collaboration with architects and designers to create a catalog of unique buildings.”
The interiors of Bert are intentionally made to be darker, creating a cozy, cave-like atmosphere that orients the views towards the large glass openings. The leaf-like shingles on the facade are kept in various shades of brown to blend the structures with the natural background. As Precht states, "For regions with little cultivated forestry and wood-craftmenship, the main wood-structure can be replaced by steel. With that concept, Baumbau can work globally on unique structures. Although Bert was designed as a tiny home, it is also possible to arrange the modules in larger configurations. From garden houses to multifamily homes to hotels or developments in the city."
Bert is conceived as a modular building system with all its parts prefabricated in a factory and put together on site. Throughout its life-span, the project can grow taller and wider by adding new modules. Bert is developed as an independent character with solar panels either on the roof or off-site, as well as a composting toilet and a water treatment facility on the ground floor. Precht's design recalls the experience of climbing trees and building shelters, forming a three-dimensional experience of nature. "How would children imagine a treehouse?”, asks Fei Tang Precht. “As architects, no matter if young or old, we have an inner child that looks at the world with playfulness and curiosity. That curiosity makes us want to explore, experiment and create. That same curiosity gave birth to Bert.”