At some point, every kid attempts to build a tree house. From the primitive-yet-effective plywood sheets dragged into the lower branches and arranged precariously in the crotch of the tree to the dad-preferred platform cottage — properly braced and held together with nails and actual know-how — the tree house hearkens back to our wilder past, when we had to make our shelters rather than buy them on the open market. Also, there's something exhilarating about hiding out in a tree house — it's like time travel or stepping into another realm. You can experience that same thrill in new and exciting ways at the TREEmendous Extreme Tree Houses exhibition
at the Missouri Botanical Garden (4344 Shaw Boulevard; 314-577-5100 or www.mobot.org
). Designers were challenged to consider sustainability, nature-inspired design and imagination while conceiving their non-traditional houses. The results range from the Nomad Nest (designed by students at the Kansas City Art Institute), a dome-like structure woven from salvaged branches that includes a formal dining area and a crawl space for kids, to Treehenge (Burns & McDonnell), which utilizes recycled Ameren utility poles. The tree houses are situated on the ground under some of the garden's largest trees, so no climbing is involved. The houses are open daily from Saturday, April 30, through Sunday, August 21. Admission to the exhibit is free with regular garden admission ($4 to $8).
April 30-Aug. 21, 2011