BY KATIE - MYGREENPOD, 5th May '14

HE’S A BIT OF A MONKEY – AND HE DESIGNS AMAZING TREE HOUSES…

We met Antony Gibbon on a beach in South Goa and clicked straight away. He makes his own chunky copper jewellery, wears a sarong with pride and always has a smile on his face – what’s not to love?

After hanging out with him for a while we discovered that he also designs tree houses. A Gibbon that makes homes in the trees – what gets more authentic than that? I stopped laughing and my jaw hit the beach when I saw his designs.

I’ve seen a few tree houses – I even tried to make one when I was little – but nothing quite like the structures in Antony’s sandy sketch book. A spiral staircase climbs up round the trunk of the tree and opens up into a pod-like structure to provide a main living area, with the covered stairs continuing inside. The accessible ‘roof’ is a flat and open deck below the canopy, onto which additional landing platforms can be added – each descending into its own separate pod.

Sustainable materials are used wherever possible and the designs are inspired by nature and geometry. Biomimicry played a key role in Antony’s Roost design, and the structure is disguised to further unite it with the surrounding woods.

The Roost (pictured) and the Embryo are both stunning and well worth a look (as is Antony, according to most of the girls on the beach), though bespoke, one-off tree houses can also be commissioned through his website.

The Roost

This tree house was designed to mimic the organic, curvaceous forms found in nature. The aim was to create a tree house that could blend in and almost become part of the tree itself, camouflaged by the surrounding forest. The tree house consists of a series of capsules that are harnessed to the trunk of each tree, using a bracing technique that causes no harm or interference with the tree’s growth.

Each capsule has a central spiral staircase leading up to an outdoor platform. This connects to the adjoining pod, allowing access into the next structure as well as providing additional support to the overall home. Only one of the pods has the spiral staircase running to ground level.

The interior of each pod sleeps two people and the above exterior platform is designed to interact with the forest surroundings, providing panoramic views of the tree’s canopy. All the materials used for the construction are from sustainable materials and do not damage the trees in any shape or form.

Embryo

This is a cylindrical, two-storey tree dwelling that again utilises the principles of biomimicry by imitating the organic curves found in nature. The design of the structure gives the illusion that it is almost part of the tree trunk, like a burr. It is clad with cedar shingles to blend the structure with the surroundings.

According to Antony, ‘The Embryo derives its name from the early stages of development in nature, and the fact that we need to readdress the way we live in today’s society. We need to stop consuming our Earth’s resources and find a simpler, more ecological way of living.

‘We are becoming increasingly disconnected from our natural surroundings; the Embryo is part of a series of designs that try to reunite and reconnect us to the elements and address how we interact with nature, whilst using materials resourcefully.’

The Embryo is attached to the tree using a series of braces that do not interfere with the growth of the tree or cause damage to the bark of the trunk. The entrance is through a hatch door which leads up to the first floor, then up to the second floor via steps that spiral upwards on the internal walls of the cylinder. This allows maximum floor space and means the Embryo can sleep up to eight people. There are three different window designs for the structure which can be custom made to suit each tree house, depending on the light levels in the surrounding area.

Both structures are also available with no need for a tree running through the centre. Instead, the trunk can be replaced with a central pole for support.

For more information, and to contact Antony to discuss bespoke designs, visit www.antonygibbondesigns.com.

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