Building a tree from the inside out

Every few days we begin work on a new major feature. Each project begins the same way - with the heavy duty structural frame.

Years of experience have taught us that there is no such thing as too strong a structural frame. The opposite isn't a good thing and can be catastophic. Everything we build is suspended from these heavy welded frames. In the case of Trinidad there are some special considerations. Firstly everything has to fit inside a shipping container. This means each piece can be no wider than seven feet, six inches. The height is about the same, except if we opt for a more expensive option and get a one foot taller container. Length is limited to just under forty feet for a standard container. Everything needs to be structurally anchored on the final site and must have secure lift points built in for the crane to load, unload and and position the heavy pieces. In the shop we need to temporarily attach heavy duty castor wheels to easily and safely shuffle things around. And most importantly these structural frames need to be well within our final sculpture. All this takes planning. Experience is a huge asset.

Yesterday I began the frame for the treehouse. We recently did a similar structure for the Cultus Lake Adventure Park. Based on our experience there I knew exactly what I would do differently this time. The project up at the lake was prefabricated in the shop but required a lot of onsite work to finish. The tree frame was also somewhat unstable on the temporary stand and this would make things difficult to transport inside a shipping container. With a modified design we easily could solve both of these challenges. I had the Matt cut the heavy steel tubing while I called out measurements and donned my welding helmet to begin assembly. We worked only from the concept drawing, not real plans with measurements. As-built drawings will be produced later for the engineer to approve.

By day's end today the tree structure was complete along with the rope net support for the climb down. The treehouse floor supports are also welded in place. The building walls and roof will be fabricated as separate sections. It's a big frame measuring seven feet - two inches tall, seven feet wide and twenty-five feet long.

With the structure finished it is time to begin the fun stuff to make it look a little more like a tree. Stay tuned...

-grampa dan