Treehouses (The House That Jack Built), by David Pearson
It is fascinating to think of the strange coalition of people who are interested in treehouses. The author of this fascinating and well-illustrated book does a good job in showing the diversity of various treehouses and the many purposes that people have in wanting to live the arboreal life. Some people have a fondness for a life that is a bit remote from other people, and I will admit to being at least a little bit misanthropic and overly fond of the quiet of the woods myself at least. Other people use treehouses as a way to aid in their efforts to protest the destruction of forests, making the forests that they wish to protect also their homes. This book also includes the usual playhouses for kids and efforts at promoting resorts as well as custom-built design and construction firms who build treehouses for profit. There are a great many people who may be interested in treehouses for one or more reasons, but will also be willing to see and appreciate what other people find in treehouses, including the chance to provide excitement for handicapped people and to reuse products in new and fascinating ways.
This short book of 100 pages, heavily photographed at that, and though it is not really divided into large parts there are clearly two different sorts of material here. The first 80 pages of the book or so (after the introduction) are a selection of various diverse treehouses that show and explain what they are trying to accomplish. This includes a bamboo hootch, a house built of corrugated metal, an annex to a house to remind the maker of his childhood dreams of a treehouse, treehouses actually made for young people that include full bars so that they can age up into adult playhouses, a few romantic resorts in the trees, a few treehouses named after the people who own them, one made in order to encourage better experiences for handicapped people and so on. some of the treehouses are built with very fancy materials, some of them with very odd materials, including one in the shape of a geodesic dome. Some of the treehouses were even built on property belonging to others, which creates problems when the property is sold to people who do not appreciate treehouses as much. The second part of the book consists of advice on how to make a treehouse as well as resources, an index, and acknowledgments.
Reading this book was pretty enjoyable for me. The book is full of a lot of gorgeous pictures of treehouses in gorgeous trees and forests constructed for diverse purposes. I have to wonder if the people who are involved in treehouses and in general arboreal work like this happen to consciously work together with the diverse coalition of people who create and enjoy such structures. This book is certainly more than just a selection of pretty houses in the trees–there are also plenty of notes and suggestions on how to make one’s plans a reality, which is something to be celebrated. But it is the diversity of treehouses and their purposes that most interests me about a book like this, where one can see buildings designed for children sit next to places where people are protesting the cutting down of trees by living in the trees they wish to save next to treehouses that are created as resorts or that are designed by businesses next to others that re-use miso barrels or marijuana beds to help construct buildings in the canopy. And all of this is deeply interesting. I am not sure of the extent to which I approve of every use to which these buildings are put, but it is something to appreciate all the same.