Tree houses history

Tree-houses history over the centuries

The construction of tree-houses has known a real infatuation for a few years now. It may be to find a retreat from the stress of the city, to live closer to Nature or to propose atypical and ecological Bed and Breakfasts. Every children has for sure dreamt of having its little cocoon perched and hidden in the branches.
But this desire isn’t some whim of our century. In fact, tree-houses (or arboricultural houses) have existed for many years: living up in a tree has always fascinated people.
The oldest proof of an arboricultural accommodation appears to date back to the Antique Rome when Caligula decided to create a dining room up in a tree for one of his banquet.


But, it is mostly during the Renaissance that arboricultural house became famous in Europe for the first time. The Medicis family’s gardens were sometimes decorated with arboricultural construction which surprised and pleased all visitors. In one of their villa in Pratolino, a spiral staircase led you to a platform situated at the top of an oak tree. This was a place where the Medecis could invite all their friends around a fountain that would splash everyone with water.


At the same period, many tree-houses appeared in the gardens in England as we can see it on many engravings. There are even some rumors about a house with several floors which was built in a lime tree by Lord Cobhram at the end of the Sixteenth Century… And even if this house didn’t survive to the English weather, British can be proud to have on their territory the oldest arboricultural house in Pitchford Hall. It is thought to date back to the seventeenth century and has survived thanks to many successful renovations.


Then tree-houses became “has been” before coming back in the nineteenth century after the wonderful success of the book Robinson Suisse in 1813. In this book, a Swiss family strands on an island after a wreck and must build a tree house to survive.
Many tree-houses were then built for European worthies. But the phenomenon reached its peak with the construction of tree houses villages in Plessis (which will be called Plessis-Robinson to pay homage to the book!). There were many “guinguettes” perched up in the trees where you could come and have a drink or eat something in the middle of the leaves. There is no restaurant of this type today, unfortunately…


But the Old continent isn’t the only place where tree-houses were built. For some people, living in the trees isn’t only an entertainment but a necessity to survive in a hostile environment.

The Korowai people (who live on an Indonesian island) have built for many centuries huts perched in Banyan trees. Those tree houses are perched between 10 to 35 meters high and can accommodate an entire family (which means 10 persons) and their domestic animals! To get up there, they only use a simple wooden pole where cuts are made to be able to climb.

Choosing to live in a tree isn’t really a choice because it has been decided by the need to survive. In fact, at heights, people can see the enemies, wild animals and mosquitoes can’t fly so high…


Living up in a tree is an idea that has travelled over the years. After all, what can be most natural than using what Nature offer us to live?