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Kew Gardens & the Museum of Architecture announce treehouse design competition

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Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew has partnered with the Museum of Architecture to launch ‘Treehouses at Kew’, a brand new design competition. Entrants are invited to design a stunning treehouse for one of three selected trees in the 320-acre UNESCO World Heritage Site. The winning entries will be displayed as part of the Treehouses at Kew exhibition, from April to October 2023.

The full exhibition will include seven treehouses, as well as a gallery exhibition and visitor programme. The three winning treehouses from this competition will be joined by three separately commissioned treehouses and one built as a co-design project with young people.

The exhibition aims to explore the value of good design and how architects can play a key role in addressing issues such as sustainability and the climate crisis.

The competition is open to UK-based and international architectural practices and submissions are welcomed from collaborative groups.

Treehouses must meet key themes

Each treehouse must be created around one of three themes. The first theme is play and the designated tree is a Norway maple tree. The second, to be created for a pine tree, should explore the theme of nature’s architecture and biomimicry. Finally, the third theme is sustainability, and this treehouse will be at home in a silver lime.

“We are delighted to launch the competition to find talented architects to work with us on this exciting summer programme for 2023,” says Richard Deverell, director of Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

“This is a unique venture for us in that it combines a celebration of our most prized asset, our beautiful collection of trees at Kew Gardens, with an opportunity to highlight our global science work through an architectural exhibition.

“We hope it will inspire our visitors to look at trees differently and ultimately to protect our planet and its precious biodiversity by championing high-quality, nature-based solutions to the challenges we face. I cannot wait to see the designs and watch it all come to life.”

Sustainable solutions

The entries must be both architecturally interesting and playfully appealing for Kew’s visitors. Designs should be bold with a focus on sustainable practice, materials and design. Each treehouse needs to be fully accessible and inclusive, as well as being inspired by the attraction’s pioneering work in the world of plants and fungi.

In addition, the treehouses should have a legacy after the exhibition, with the ability to be reassembled somewhere else.

“Architects draw from nature to inform their designs aesthetically, to find design solutions, and come up with sustainable outcomes,” says Melissa Woolford, founder of the Museum of Architecture.

“The Treehouses at Kew Design Competition is an important opportunity to show how forward-thinking designs and material use can have a positive impact on our planet. I am really excited to see how design teams respond to this opportunity to create innovative design approaches that inspire thousands of people to think differently about the natural and built environments.”

For more information and to enter the Treehouses of Kew design competition, please click here.

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew opened its new Family Kitchen & Shop in December last year, following the success of its Children’s Garden.

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charlotte coates

Charlotte Coates

Charlotte Coates is blooloop's editor. She is from Brighton, UK and previously worked as a librarian. She has a strong interest in arts, culture and information and graduated from the University of Sussex with a degree in English Literature. Charlotte can usually be found either with her head in a book or planning her next travel adventure.

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