Dorset is a beautiful part of the world. Last week, while the temperature in London crept slovenly higher, a thick and cool fog floated in from the English Channel and swallowed up an oak forest at Hooke Park by the sea where two architects, Nozomi Nakabayashi and Elizabeth Cunningham, are building a tree house for a writer. Inhibited vision and a heightened smell of the woodland indulged the sense that Dorset exists on another plane entirely to the one left behind on the train.
The tree house in question will be suspended from the branch of an oak tree five feet up on a slanted hill over-looking a field filled with deer, and a pond that the writer has built on his land. These two views are precious to him. In a tree house, suspended from the branch of an old oak tree, he will be able to lie flat on his back, as in a bath, he says, and gather inspiration - not to write, but to think. ‘The building is a metaphor for how their life is’ says Nakabayashi. It will be built using techniques learned in the forest at Hooke Park, a place visited often by the writer and where his son has learned similar techniques. Materials used will cause little harm: Douglas Fir from Dorset for the structure and cork and denim for insulation. The tree house is a mixture of poetry and pragmatism. ‘I’m not so worried about safety; I want something epic. I don’t mind being up there clenching my buttocks’ said the writer and so, hanging from the branch of an old oak tree, on a hill where the ground feels like it is falling away, it is epic and quiet and still. At the base of the tree house is a covered perch where the writer’s dog can come to rest, marking the realisation of the project’s most important feature.