A treehouse built for grown-ups | Lifestyle | DW | 26.06.2018
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A treehouse built for grown-ups

While treehouses are known as a hidden space of freedom and adventure for children, they still fascinate adults as well. Here's one outstanding example built by a couple of musicians in western Germany.

A wooden construction in a maple tree turns out to be a truly authentic architectural jewel. Built on her huge property located near the historical castle of Windeck in the Bergisches Land, a hilly region in western Germany, the ambitious treehouse is the realization of musician Irmelin Palm's childhood dream. 

Roughly seven years ago, Irmelin Palm's dream became reality. "Once I get started, I tend to work really hard until it's all finished," she said. The singer managed to plan and construct her masterpiece within three months only.

Sketches of a tree house (DW/A. Mölleken)

Sketches that came before the construction of the tree house

Artist couple and treehouse team

The artist was supported by her husband Thomas Palm and numerous voluntary helping hands. However, she didn't allow her husband to work with saws and hammers, since he's a pianist whose hands are his most important tool. He took care of the interior design instead.

The treehouse was originally planned as a private retreat. But Palm got the idea to actually rent it out after hikers of the nearby trail, Natursteig Sieg, discovered the tree house in the fall of 2017, and asked whether they could stay there overnight. In November 2017, the treehouse opened its doors for visitors.

Guests from all over the world

Since then, visitors from around the globe have arrived in Windeck-Schladern, including guests from Hong Kong, and a US family from North Carolina who made a stop here as part of a trip through Europe. So far, more than 300 people have slept in the unusual location.

Among them were two young couples who wanted to have a rest just before having children — literally. One of the two heavily pregnant women's water broke while sleeping in the treehouse.

Another memorable guest was a young man from Luxembourg who booked 10 nights in the middle of the winter in order to finish his diploma thesis in the maple tree.

A man from Russia contacted the Palm family, planning on doing his marriage proposal in the treehouse. 

Irmelin Palm understands the huge interest in her treehouse. After all, she started dreaming about it at a young age herself. 

Her father then proposed to construct a stilted tree house for her. But Palm wasn't satisfied with it, as she felt a stilted house wasn't a real treehouse.

Irmelin Palm (DW/A. Mölleken)

Irmelin Palm

Winding around the tree

The Palm family's treehouse is suspended in the air roughly 2.5 meters above the ground.

It winds around the tree in such a way that the massive trunk with a diameter of four meters forms the center of the construction. From the roof, the maple tree rises another 20 meters into the air.

"If I had constructed the treehouse only for myself, I might have added another floor," the "architect" says. But these ambitions were limited by the acrophobia of her husband for whom even the 2.5 meters of altitude have posed a challenge. "There's no contact between the house and the ground. Only the stairs touch the ground."

Taking care of the tree's well-being

The couple closely watches the development of the tree to avoid harming its natural growth. All beams have been fixed at the trunk at a certain angle because otherwise, the screws could loosen. A total of around 100 screws have been fixed on to the tree without harming its vitality. 

By now, removing the tree house would be more painful for Palm than for the tree. The trunk has already integrated the treehouse by noosing branches and bark around the various parts of the construction. Neoprene was used to seal different parts because it's a flexible material that adapts to the form of the tree.

City dwellers particularly love to visit the treehouse, which they see as an expression of harmony between man and nature.



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