Many of us as kids used to build the treehouses in the neighborhood, equipping them with the most important tools and dreamed of living in it one day. While we kept dreaming, brothers Andy and Simon Payne brought the kid’s dream into reality. Growing up in Kenya, boys spend tons of time fixing zip wires, swings and of course the tree top houses.
“A big part of the emotional reason why people decide to build a tree house is because they remember fondly the fun they had as kids,” Simon Payne. And now bothers are the heads of the world’s leading tree house company Blue Forest. The name was inspired by the blueish hue of the pine forests in mountainous region of Japan and the wish to bring people closer to nature.
Company uses sustainable construction materials, like timber for building hundreds of tree houses. It also cooperates with the world’s largest forest certification system PEFC to make sure that woods come from sustainably managed land. “You can find out exactly where the tree was grown, when it was cut down and how many trees were planted to replace it,” says Payne.
Of course it is not that east to make tree houses completely off the grid, but Payne ensures that the elements that make the tree houses the most sustainable are often the simplest.
“Although everyone in truth wants to hear about renewable energy solutions and all of that, actually insulating your building really well, using the natural resources of the sun and the wind for cooling and heating, using simple things like low-energy lighting, they probably make the biggest difference.”
If you take a look inside the Costa Rican rainforest, you will find Finca Bellavista – a community suspended in trees. 600 acre plot is home to around 40 treehouses, where there is no such a notion as waste and everything is solar-powered.
When brothers stumbled for the first time with this piece of paradise they were magnified and compelled to save this forest, so they started the regeneration process pretty fast and built the life for themselves in the trees. Brothers admit that they try to design around the natural environment and avoid cutting down the trees. Homes are stilt-built around the trees or make use of hybrid designs so that the bulk of the house is supported by posts and the trees used as anchors. But there are also fully arboreal houses that look like suspended in the air. One of such homes is El Castillo Mastate- a tree house which is suspended 90 feet off the ground and is considered to be a Taj Mahal of tree houses ever built.
Finca Bellavista is a pedestrian community, which means tree houses are accessible via zip lines, suspension bridges and 11 kilometers of hiking trails.
All water comes from gravity-fed hand-dug springs on the property. Every house is also required to have a biodigester to break down all the black water human waste.
Most of the houses in Finca Bellavista are for renting out and most homeowners retire here.
“It’s a very attractive thing for a lot of people, whether it’s for a vacation or a life change and I’d say that most of the people that ended up buying properties have done so because of the connection they have with nature,” says Hogan.
“You’re completely immersed in nature, you go to bed listening to the bugs and the frogs and you wake up with bird song,” he explains. “It’s kind of like living in one of those spa CDs of rainforest sounds.”
One of the hardest things in building such houses is to meet the clientss needs in the most sustainable way possible. For example, when customers wish to have stone finishes. Some people don’t put too much trust into the woods and give preference to steel, as it lasts longer than the wood.
Payne adds: “We kind of do the bit we can on every job, and then certain jobs are just more sustainable than others, that’s the truth.”