Creativity is all about escapism, and what’s more escapist than climbing into a tree, scuffing your shins on the way, and sitting among the branches watching the world go by below?
Offices are always looking for new ways to evolve and to stimulate creativity - the better the idea, the more prolific and successful the business should be (one hopes).
Catherine Hills, a spokesperson from Blue Forest, a treehouse architect, says: “These famous treehouses capture much of the adventure and imagination that we can all associate with but it is also a great place to enjoy the garden from. Being built amongst the branches in the treetops, a treehouse has a very unique and peaceful feel. It is always exciting to get away from the ‘normal’ things we become familiar with. Treehouses embody escapism and so it’s the perfect place to take yourself away to where you can focus away from any distractions.”
Working among a tree’s branches could be the kick a business needs to up its creativity. But how feasible is that in a busy city, and other than a sense of wonder, are there any actual advantages to this for a business?
GroundworkLondon thought there were, which is why last summer they opened up TREExOFFICE in Hoxton. The charity’s aim is to refresh the city’s green spaces with its Park Hack project. It blended well into Hoxton Square, and achieved its main aim - to blur the boundary between office and nature. Rory Harmer, one of the architects of the treehouse, told the Guardian that the aim of the building was to “create a new office concept, changing the way we work in the city”.
Nestled between the trees, the structure had WiFi and power sockets so up to eight people could work in the building and was constructed from plastic, wood, and compressed paper to allow maximum light to filter through the walls. Although the treehouse was taken down over winter, the project aimed to install a number of these structures in parks around London as part of a wider project.
Treehouses can work in the city, but if you allow yourself a little more space, there’s no reason why a treehouse office couldn't thrive in the countryside or in the backyard - provided you have a robust enough trunk of course.
Hills explains how her company started out in a treehouse: “Our company was actually run from a treehouse office in the earlier years before the team got too big – that managed to fit about 2-3 people working very comfortably. All of our designs are bespoke, so we can absolutely create a design that will allow for a small company to work from. We could even quite happily design different areas for meetings and workshops if required.”
Having a treehouse office means that you can connect with the outdoors no matter what the weather is like. Hills says, “It’s also a brilliantly unique place to work from. You will always be remembered for being the company that works from a treehouse.”
She explains how it’s important for the treehouses to feel luxurious and comfortable, so heating and air conditioning is usually incorporated into the designs. “Some people feel like a treehouse should be a very natural space, free from technology, and others like to completely kit their treehouses out with all the latest gadgets. Our designs have included i-pad systems, mood lighting, fingerprint recognition doors, home cinema systems and console game rooms.”
Of course, there are a few practical things to take into consideration. You need space, trees, and planning permission (if your structure is going to hold quite a few people, you should probably check just how secure that tree is). Plus, you should probably run a screening that none of your employees have vertigo. Other than this, the benefits of simply shimmying up a ladder into the trees to work, might make you the most creative office around.