Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and the Museum of Architecture (MoA) have launched a competition to find three exceptional designs to create three treehouses across RBG Kew's UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of a larger ‘Treehouses at Kew’ Exhibition.
‘Treehouses at Kew’ will be Kew’s main exhibition running from April to October 2023, and provide one of the most unmissable visitor experiences of the 2023 London cultural calendar.
This impressive project will include seven Treehouses, a gallery exhibition, and an accompanying visitor programme.
- Three treehouses will be chosen through the Treehouses at Kew Design Competition.
- Three treehouses will be direct commissions by architects from Kew’s designated International Scientific Priority countries.
- One will be co-designed in collaboration with young people.
The exhibition will communicate the value of good design and the role architects can play in addressing some of the most pressing problems we face today - sustainable use of materials, responding to the climate crisis and creating places that successfully balance the needs of people and the planet.
Kew’s 14,000 trees are the backbone of its glorious UNESCO world heritage site in West London, but, more pertinently, they represent the ‘lungs’ of our entire planet. Trees contribute immeasurably to our mental wellbeing, and, more immediately, provide us with commodities that underpin life; clean air, food, timber, fuel and medicine.
Change to our climate has become one of today’s important environmental and social issues resonating with people all over the world. An anticipated 900,000 visitors will attend the exhibition during its run, and each treehouse must inspire visitors in fun and interactive ways to learn more about protecting the climate, biodiversity and sustainable design.
The competition is an exciting opportunity to use creative and architectural thinking to design in and around Kew’s living collection and produce inventive, accessible, and innovative designs. Architects are invited to design an exceptional treehouse for one of three selected trees within Kew’s 320-acre site. Each treehouse should respond to that tree’s specific theme. The themes are:
- Celebrating play - a Norway Maple.
- Highlighting nature’s architecture and biomimicry - a Pine.
- Showcasing pioneering sustainable materials and innovative design - a Silver Lime.
Designed and built using sustainable renewable materials, each treehouse should celebrate and explore key aspects of trees and their importance to our world by bringing visitors closer than ever before to Kew’s living collection.
The jury will look for designs that are architecturally interesting, demonstrate boldness, are pioneering in the use of materials and include a legacy life so they can be reassembled elsewhere.
It is anticipated that the delivery of Treehouses at Kew will be supported by a number of partners including Finsa UK Limited, Arup and Xilonor.
Richard Deverell, Director of RBG, Kew, said: “We are delighted to launch the competition to find talented architects to work with us on this exciting summer programme for 2023. This is a unique venture for us in that it combines a celebration of our most prized asset, our beautiful collection of trees at Kew Gardens, with an opportunity to highlight our global science work through an architectural exhibition. We hope it will inspire our visitors to look at trees differently and ultimately to protect our planet and its precious biodiversity by championing high-quality, nature-based solutions to the challenges we face. I cannot wait to see the designs and watch it all come to life.”
Melissa Woolford, founder of the Museum of Architecture said: “Architects draw from nature to inform their designs aesthetically, to find design solutions, and come up with sustainable outcomes. The Treehouses at Kew Design Competition is an important opportunity to show how forward-thinking designs and material use can have a positive impact on our planet. I am really excited to see how design teams respond to this opportunity to create innovative design approaches that inspire thousands of people to think differently about the natural and built environments.”
This will be a two-stage competition run by the Museum of Architecture in partnership with Kew. The competition is open to UK-based and international architecture practices, and submissions are welcomed from collaborations. Further information about the submission process can be found on the Museum of Architecture’s website.
All first stage submissions should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org by 12 noon (GMT) on Monday 7 February 2022.
The successful winning entrants will be required to work with Kew Gardens and Museum of Architecture to realise their treehouse on-site and to be included in various project components such as the gallery exhibition, programming, publications, marketing and press, and commercial activities associated with the project.