Treehotel adds Biosphere retreat | Enclosed in 350 birdhouses

Treehotel has revealed its eighth experimental retreat called Biosphere, which is suspended between two trees and wrapped in a façade of 350 birdhouses. 

Designed by BIG in collaboration with Swedish ornithologist Ulf Öhman, the boutique hotel room is designed to immerse guests in nature and to help facilitate the conservation of the local bird population. The 34-square-metre glazed cube is surrounded by a metal grid that supports the timber-made birdhouses of various sizes, and creates its spherical form. 

The retreat is accessed via a suspended bridge that slopes from the ground to the hotel room in the trees

The forest site, situated close to the village of Harads in Swedish Lapland, is a valuable natural habitat enshrouded by pine trees and it is a perfect place for quiet contemplation. “I got to spend a few days and nights in some of the Treehotel rooms, and left with a sense of rejuvenation from complete immersion into nature,” explained architect and BIG founder Bjarke Ingels.  

“I couldn’t help wondering if there was a way to take the immersion one step further – and almost instantly the idea of inviting not only the human visitors but also the resident bird and bat population to cohabit a spherical swarm of nests came to life.” 

So, the Biosphere was a direct response to the needs of the Swedish forest and created to withstand the strong climatic contrasts through the changing seasons. The highly resilient retreat is accessed via a suspended bridge that gradually slopes upwards towards the entrance. 

The 350 timber-constructed birdhouses are supported by a steel frame

“The ecological response is the driver behind the architectural expression,” said João Albuquerque, architect and partner at BIG. “It’s a unique experience for hotel guests, which takes inspiration from the qualities of the surrounding forest and absorbs them into the interior.” 

Designed for two people, the double-height living space incorporates warm, dark interiors and an organic material palette which draws inspiration from the natural landscape. This pared-back atmosphere aims to encourage an outward looking gaze, allowing guests to focus on the views of the remarkable remote woodland views. 

As each of the birdhouses take shape with varying sizes and distances – informed by the bird type and its frequency in the area – light filters into the retreat and guests are given the opportunity to experience birdlife in close proximity. 

A double-height living space incorporates rich, dark interiors and organic materials, with large apertures opening up the views

Ultimately the intention behind the Biosphere is to replace the birds’ natural dwellings lost to forestry. As Ulf Öhman, chairman of the Norrbotten Ornithological Association, explains: “Forestry has led to a reduced number of natural holes in trees where breeding birds nest. The installation of bird nests is therefore an important measure to take.”

“Furthermore, climate change leads to the insect boom happening earlier in the year, and by the time the birds’ eggs hatch, the boom has already passed. Feeding is an important support mechanism for the birds that stay in Northern Sweden and require food during winter. Demonstrating the use of bird nests and feeding, not just at the Treehotel but for people to install near their own homes, is valuable,” Öhman added.

The unique retreat is designed to attract wildlife and for guests to be fully immersed in the surrounding forest

Project details:

Location: Harads, Sweden

Architect: BIG

Client: Treehotel

Collaborators: Ulf Öhman, Chairman of the Norrbotten Ornithological Association; Ateljé Lyktan; Vittjärvshus

Partner-in-charge: Bjarke Ingels and João Albuquerque

Project leader: Geoffrey Eberle and Angel Barreno Gutiérrez

Project architect: Francisco Abajo Duran

Photography: Mats Engfors Fotographic

Nestled in a tree canopy, Biosphere amplifies Treehotel’s focus on sustainability and natural tourism

Learn more about what a stay in the trees entails at Treehotel, and take a look at more pioneering sustainable architecture by BIG.

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