News Home & Design This Solar-Powered Treehouse Was Built With Tree-Friendly Engineering The treehouse grows up in this luxurious rendition that guests can rent. By Kimberley Mok Kimberley Mok Writer McGill University Cornell University Kimberley Mok is a former architect who has been covering architecture and the arts for Treehugger since 2007. Learn about our editorial process Published July 13, 2023 09:46AM EDT Exploring Alternatives News Environment Business & Policy Science Animals Home & Design Current Events Treehugger Voices News Archive There is something magical about trees that makes us want to learn more about them—to know how to identify them, what kinds of amazing things they can do, and how they interact with their environment. Take it up another notch, and some of us might actually want to live in close proximity to a tree, perhaps in a stunning treehouse that is built around a majestic tree or two, like this one that was recently constructed north of Toronto, Canada, near Minden. Built by the locally based Fort Treehouse Co., this 370-square-foot (34-square-meter) treehouse rises up two stories and spans over three trees—one red maple and two sugar maples. The Baltic is a one-of-a-kind treehouse that includes a full range of amenities like a kitchen, bathroom, living room, a comfortable sleeping loft, as well as luxurious extras like an outdoor wood-fired hot tub. Exploring Alternatives We get a full rundown of how this modern treehouse got off the ground and what it looks like inside in this tour via Exploring Alternatives: From the outside, the solar-powered treehouse has a modern profile that is punctuated with many large windows to let in plenty of natural light. Exploring Alternatives The Baltic was built using techniques that would protect the trees as much as possible. For instance, no large machinery was used around the trees, which can damage the water-absorbing surface roots significantly. Instead, a complex system of rigging was used so that large supports and pieces of materials were swung into by hand-pulled ropes. The structure also sits on a platform 13 feet off the ground that is supported by specialized hardware that is attached to the trees. The platform also serves as a small outdoor deck, including an area that functions as an outdoor shower, hidden by the tree trunks. For this project, the supporting trees were located outside of the treehouse envelope, as the cold climate meant it would have subjected the trees to huge differences in temperatures if part of their trunks were inside the house. Exploring Alternatives Additionally, there is an insulated conduit where plumbing and electrical wires run up to service the treehouse. Exploring Alternatives Interestingly, prior to construction, the company consulted with an arborist who used sonic tomography to test out which trees were the strongest and healthiest candidates for building a treehouse around. As Fort Treehouse Co.'s founder Cam Green explains, there are some important things to note about tree physiology and engineering treehouse attachment bolts (TABs) that allow such a hardware system to work with minimal damage to the tree. One of the earliest TABs to be used commercially, beginning in the 1990s, was the Garnier Limb (GL). There are many models on the market now, and it seems that Fort Treehouse Co. has developed its own version that distributes the treehouse's weight on both sides of the tree instead of just one: "We've got some very specialized hardware that supports the treehouse and ensures the longevity of the trees. On the exterior of the tree, about the first two inches is where all those living cells that are taking food up and storing sugars. In the middle [of the tree] is wood—it's lumber, it's wood, it's the support for the tree. So by putting the hardware all the way through the tree, you're not causing any more impact to the tree and its ability to carry what it needs up and down the tree, but you are putting the load nice and safe on either side of the tree, instead of just on one [side]." Exploring Alternatives Once inside, we come into a small foyer where there is a bench to sit down and take off one's shoes. Exploring Alternatives The living room is gorgeous, and features a towering window that permits sunlight to stream in, heating up the poured adobe floor that is made with a mix of local clay, sand, straw. This earthen floor provides a big thermal mass that soaks up heat from the sun, then slowly releases it throughout the day to keep the house warm. Exploring Alternatives For the main heating source, there is also a propane fireplace off to the side. Baltic birch plywood panels line the walls, and they were chosen as this material would allow for the dynamic shifting that occurs in a treehouse, more so than regular drywall. Exploring Alternatives The kitchen is compact but has all the basics, like a stove, oven, sink, and a mini-refrigerator. Exploring Alternatives The bathroom can also be found on this floor, and it features a lovely shower, toilet, and vintage-style sink. Exploring Alternatives The sleeping loft is accessed by a ladder that was designed like those that are found on ships. Exploring Alternatives The bedroom is an amazing space that is surrounded by windows on all sides that either look out to the landscape or can be opened for natural airflow. Exploring Alternatives. With its minimalist and wood-lined aesthetic, The Baltic is probably one of the best modern treehouses that we've seen thus far. Fortunately, it is available for short-term stays, with prices starting at about $330 per night so that you can enjoy it too. To find out more, visit Fort Treehouse Co. or their Instagram, or visit here to book a stay.