Room for sustainable thinking

Friday 16 Nov 2012

Inspirational conference centre in the treetops of Hechtel-Eksel in Belgium

A gem has been created within the woods of Hechtel-Eksel in Belgium. Described as inspirational, The TREEHOUSE has the vision to bridge the extensive gap between ecology and the economy.

Sappi, The Flemish Forest and Nature Agency, the commune of Hechtel-Eksel and Proximity have joined forces with the aim of encouraging companies, politicians and organisations to embrace sustainability in their daily activities. They all share one vision: to enhance the quality of the environment and social responsibility for the benefit of people, planet and prosperity.

Designed as an escape or retreat, the spaces provide an environment in which Business men can discuss sustainability within an inspirational context or even for scientists to temporarily reside whilst carrying out research.

The architects behind the design, Baumraum, have created a unique image for this project. The tree house was initially conceived as a sheet of paper which has been pleated so it encloses both the interior and exterior spaces.

The TREEHOUSE consists of five elements: two cabins on different levels, connecting terraces, a staircase and a connecting roof. In the lower cabin there is a coffee lounge, pantry, restroom and technology room. The upper room is dedicated to meetings and other events that are appropriate to a view from in amongst the surrounding trees.

All of the small details have been designed with its function in mind, such as the benches which have been covered with soft pillows and lines the edges of the room which creates a comfortable and laid-back environment, encouraging one to stay longer.

The cabins and upper terraces rest on 19 angled steel stilts which individually connect to the ground below with foundation screws. This feature ensures that the tree house has minimal impact on the forest floor.

Sustainability features throughout the TREEHOUSE; all of the equipment uses the existing supplies of the nearby museum or have been designed to be self-sufficient. Features include a heat pump unit which is situated in an underground space and extracts heat from the air. In summertime this unit can be used for cooling as well, resulting with a CO2 neutral system.

The partnership has commented: "THE TREEHOUSE isn't just any tree house. It's a small architectural wonder equipped with state-of-the-art eco facilities located in the forests of Hechtel-Eksel."

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