From primordial refuge to the expression of a dream – not just a child’s dream – of adventure to escape from the ordinariness of everyday life, the tree house is an archetype in which the idea of a protective nest and the need for beneficial contact with nature come together.

Sometimes tree houses are a refined combination of craftsmanship, design, and technology, becoming in effect small ‘architectures’ worthy of the name. This is the case of Cassiopeia, designed and built by the Portuguese studio Madeiguincho Atelier, which has been combining architectural design and sophisticated carpentry skills in a single creative and executive process for years.

The tiny work is located in a garden without trees near Cascais but, just like its counterpart raised houses among the branches, it is an evocative place with minimal environmental impact: invisible from the outside of the property, the house – made entirely of wood – is suspended on pilotis (stilts) similar to an insect’s legs and anchored to the ground with metal plates. Inside, a multi-level playground for children, with multiple routes including a slide, a swing and a climbing wall, among other things, promises fun for the little ones and relaxation for the grown-ups.

The faceted and irregular volume with a vaguely cubist flavour is wrapped in a cross-laminated timber (CLT) cladding with horizontal wooden slats. Glazed openings of various shapes and sizes – from the French windows opening onto the terrace to the skylight in the roof – offer different views of the world that, even from a few meters above, can seem more stimulating: all you have to do is change perspective.

Ph credits: João Carranca

Progetto: "JK21"