This Italian Architect’s ‘Pinecone’ Should Be a Laneway House in Strathcona


With our city now so laughably unaffordable, thousands of Vancouverites are stuck imagining wonderful homes instead of living in them. Spaced is a record of our minds wandering the world of architecture and design, up and away from the unrewarding realities of shoebox condos, dark basement suites, and sweet f~ck all on Craigslist.

(via) Italian architect Claudio Beltrame and pre-fab specialists Domus Gaia built this pinecone-shaped treehouse on a slope in the Dolomite region of the Italian Alps so the client could stargaze at night through an oculus window cut into the top of it. Beltrame was apparently steered to the design by the concepts of philosopher Michael Foucault; specifically his ideas on Heterotopias, or spaces that function beyond the control of societies.

“Shelter in a tree has always been the best place to dream,” he told Dezeen. “ man’s primitive place and a place of liberty and reflection.”

Clad in overlapping, locally sourced larch shingles that recall the tight surface of a pinecone, the three-level structure is supported 10 metres above ground by the fir trees around it and accessed by a gangplank bridge that feeds out of the slope. An almost full wrap of windows brings in a lot of light while also providing dramatic views of the mountains. Above the living room, kitchen and bathroom is the bedroom with the oculus.

We can think of many places in British Columbia where a house like this would be appropriate (eg. Lion’s Bay, the North Shore, Whistler) but since this column is knowingly anchored in fantasy we’ll imagine it as a corner laneway abode in our own neighbourhood of Strathcona, peaking out like a watchtower above where the alley intersects with the street. And never mind the slope for a bridge; we’d be OK with a ladder.

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All photographs are courtesy of DomusGaia.

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