The Treetop Hotel was crafted by hand with high respect for the natural surroundings at the Als Odde peninsula in Denmark. Inspired by the diversity of Nordic nature, architect Sigurd Larsen shared his thoughts on the project with Design Stories – and revealed what it felt like to spend a night at the top of a tree.
LOCATED NEAR THE MARIAGER FJORD, amid verdant woodland scenery stands The Treetop Hotel. The three modern treehouses – Et, Ro, and Ly – offer an inspiring take on camping with their imaginative architecture: the tiny cabins are built high above the ground around old tree trunks that continue to grow and move through the building.
Paying homage to minimalistic Scandinavian design language, the cabins are simple yet extremely cozy, giving center-stage to their breathtaking surroundings. The first cabins were finished in 2019, and six more will be built in the years to come. Design Stories sat down with architect Sigurd Larsen, who shared his vision for the project.
Hello Sigurd! Could you tell us what were your main sources of inspiration for the Treetop house?
“The cabins are located in a very diverse forest on the edge between areas of perennials and evergreen trees. Also, the chosen location is a bit higher in the landscape, so we were very inspired by the various views in all directions. We came up with the scheme of framing the views from the inside through windows pointing in different directions, rather than one full panoramic view showing all at once, or just focusing on one view.”
What kind of requests did the customer have for the project?
“Gastronomy was a big part of our first conversations. The forest stands between a fjord and the ocean, so the various biotopes offer a vast smorgasbord of plants you can cook. It's also a popular fishing spot. That is why the cabins each contain a kitchen, which is a bit unusual for a hotel room.”
What would you say were the biggest challenges of the project?
“In the beginning, we had a lot of brilliant ideas about prefabricating two halves of a house in a workshop and click them together around the tree trunk on-site. None of our attempts would have worked in a forest though, because the required crane would have been very large and destroyed the trees. So, in the end, the cabins were carefully hand made on-site by a small group of local carpenters to leave the forest unaffected.”
Can you tell a little about the materials you used and how you ended up choosing them?
“The client was very focused on materials that would acquire patina, so we left the wood untreated so it can turn grey and moss green over time.”
What are your thoughts about the final result? What are you most happy about?
“The first year we were fully booked, so I didn't have a chance to stay in one of the rooms until the second season, this year. I was very happy to experience the amount of privacy and how nice the daylight inside the cabins is. And it's a very unique experience sleeping next to a slowly moving very large tree truck that grows through the house.”
Who: Sigurd Larsen
• Danish architect who works in the fields of architecture and furniture design.
• Founded his own studio in Berlin in 2010.
• Has a master's degree from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Architecture.
• Been a professor at Berlin International University of Applied Sciences since 2016, and an assistant professor at the University of the Arts, Berlin in 2011–2017.
• Has previously worked at OMA-Rem Koolhaas in New York, MVRDV in Rotterdam, and COBE Architects in Copenhagen.
Text: Mira Ahola Images: Sigurd Larsen, Sœren Larsen, Herbert Hoffmann