Tree, by Make

Make Architects - Tree House, Sherwood Forest, United Kingdom
Make Architects - Tree House, Sherwood Forest, United Kingdom

For the county of Nottinghamshire the British (ex-Foster) firm Make designed a visitors pavilion. Like the classic column the design features a base with ‘core visitors functions’, a shaft with a staircase, and a capital at 20 meters with a viewing platform.

The architects say that the design applies a double, connected iconography: the tree + the tree house. The lower part of the design reflects the roots of a tree, then comes the trunk, and the whole is finished with the branches. The design is clad in unfinished wood.

Make Architects - Tree House, Sherwood Forest, United Kingdom
Make Architects - Tree House, Sherwood Forest, United Kingdom

Make Architects - Tree House, Sherwood Forest, United Kingdom
Make Architects - Tree House, Sherwood Forest, United Kingdom

Where the ‘tree house’ iconography would be visible is not clear – where are the platforms? Also curious is how ‘roots’ can be this big, and completely exposed, as they are normally, well, underground. The Make-signature suppresses the iconography.

Dreamscapes, Wageningse Berg, Netherlands (Photographer: Jeroen Musch)
Dreamscapes, Wageningse Berg, Netherlands (Photographer: Jeroen Musch)

Make Architects - Tree House, Sherwood Forest, United Kingdom
Make Architects - Tree House, Sherwood Forest, United Kingdom

The design reminded me of this photograph by Yann Arthus-Bertrand, of a burned tree in Ivory Coast, Africa. The white shape on the ground echoes the form of the tree that once was. This reference is important in the sense that the ‘tree’ designed by Make reminds more of dead trees than an alive one. I am not sure whether this connotation is a negative, or a positive one. Old (dead) trees also have a distinct beauty.

Remains of a burned tree, Ivory Coast (Photographer: Yann Arthus-Bertrand)
Remains of a burned tree, Ivory Coast (Photographer: Yann Arthus-Bertrand)

The tree-iconography in architecture is an emergent one. After the theory about blurred trees of Erick van Egeraat, a design of twisted trees was presented by LHPA, and last week Mecanoo unveiled a design ‘inspired by the Banyan tree’, in South Korea.

It seems only a matter of time before designs for skyscrapers are being presented that echo more literally the forms of trees. Modernity as it unfolds is not a path towards abstraction, but a path towards literalism.

The project is added to the Architects, and Representation pages.


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