The Treehotel in Swedish Lapland has unveiled the Biosphere, a spherical treehouse suspended between pine trees and surrounded by 340 bird houses, allowing guests to wake to a ‘dawn chorus’ like no other. Jenny Southan reports
Designed by Danish architectural firm BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group), in close collaboration with Treehotel and Swedish ornithologist Ulf Öhman, the Treehotel’s Biosphere will be the eighth treehouse to be unveiled in the property’s forest.
The other treehouses have been designed by companies such as Snöhetta, Rintala Eggerstsson and Tham & Videgård, and include the UFO, Bird’s Nest and Mirrorcube. Founded by Kent and Britta Jonsson-Lindvall, the Treehotel is situated in the small village Harads about 70 minutes from the airport of Luleå, in Swedish Lapland. The 34 sqm Biosphere has been specifically designed to attract birds, allowing guests to be “fully immersed” in the forest.
Opening in May, 2022, the glass-clad Biosphere will be accessed via a suspended bridge that slopes from the ground to the top of the trees.Inside guests will find “rich dark interiors and organic materials inspired by the surrounding landscape, which further serve to reinforce the visitors’ view outwards and to focus on the natural beauty of the surroundings”.
Far from being a rough-and-ready retreat, the two-person Biosphere houses a comfortable lounge with a sofa, a double bed, a shower, an incinerating toilet, a sustainable Rukkamoinika water system with three litres of water for washing hands, a sauna and rooftop terrace. Outside, birds will discover hundreds of bird boxes to make their nests in. Prices depend on the season, but rates for the Biosphere will cost from 12,000 SEK (£963) per night including a buffet breakfast at the nearby lodge.
BIG founder and creative director, Bjarke Ingels, says: “I got to spend a few days and nights in some of the Treehotels rooms right before the pandemic, and left with a sense of rejuvenation from complete immersion into nature.
“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.
“After our first conversations with the chairman of the Norrbotten Ornithological Association we were relieved to learn that birds don’t drop where they nest – so there is hope for the glass to remain clear within this cloud of aviary architecture.” Kent Lindvall says: “We are very happy to initiate a project together with yet another group of leading Scandinavian architects, BIG. This completes our goal of having architects from all Scandinavian countries.
“We have always depended heavily upon our leading Scandinavian architects, who have helped us build a holistic view – from the little to large details – in the design process. We have been waiting for the right time and the right architecture company for our next step.
“The fact that our eighth room will be created in collaboration with Danish BIG, at this very point in time, and with a future-focused concept where the natural environment becomes an interactive part of the experience, feels perfect.” The Treehotel is known for its broad variety of cabins, with each cabin having a distinct identity that responds and interacts differently with the surrounding forest. The Biosphere amplifies the Treehotel’s focus on sustainability and natural tourism, helping facilitate the conservation of the local bird population.
Ulf Öhman, chairman of the Norrbotten Ornithological Association, says: “Inventories in Norrbotten County, carried out both by us as ornithologists and by the County Administrative Board, show that a number of different bird populations are decreasing. 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. An initiative from Treehotel to take such measures may inspire their visitors to do the same.”