The "Spherical Tree House" concept borrows heavily from sailboat construction and rigging practice.  It’s a marriage of tree house and sailboat technology.  Wooden spheres are built much like a cedar strip canoe or kayak.  Suspension points are similar to the chain plate attachments on a sailboat.  Stairways hang from a tree much like a sailboats shrouds hang from the mast.  Very cool photos.

Uses for these durable Spheres are limited only by ones imagination and include: healing, meditation, photography, canopy research, hunting & leisure.

Free Spirit Spheres can be hung from the trees as shown, making a tree house. They can also be hung from any other solid objects or placed in cradles on the ground. There are four attachment points on the top of each sphere and another four anchor points on the bottom. Each of the attachment points is strong enough to carry the weight of the entire sphere and contents.  

The spheres are made of two laminations of wood strips over laminated wood frames. The outside surface is then finished and covered with a clear fibreglass. The result is a beautiful and very tough skin. The skin is waterproof and strong enough to take the impacts that come with life in a dynamic environment such as the forest. suspended sphere is tethered, by 3 nearly vertical ropes, to each of 3 separate trees.  This distributes the load evenly over the 3 trees and results in a stable hang.  Kind of like an inverted three legged stool. There will be almost equal tension in each of the three suspension ropes.  The sphere resides in the center of the triangle formed by the 3 trees. It can be slung from 5 to 100’ off the ground, depending on the size of the trees.  The triangle formed by 3 old trees was called a sacred grove in the druid tradition. Each grove was influenced by the type and age of the trees.  I’ve found that to be my experience as well. 

The flavor of a grove changes considerably with the type of trees.

A sphere is accessed by a spiral stairway and short suspension bridge.  The two lower back suspension points of the sphere are tied horizontally to the two back trees, to keep the suspension bridge from sagging when it is walked on.  The door faces the “door tree” and the suspension bridge connects the two.  A helical stairway spirals up or down from the suspension bridge to the ground or next level. 

Spherical architecture has many new features.  For example the walls and ceiling become “One”.  I call it uniwall construction.  There are only 2 sides to a sphere: inside and outside.  Inside a sphere sound and energy waves are reflected back to you without being all distorted like they would be in a room with flat walls.  When your head is centred in the sphere every sound you make comes back to you.  From a healing point of view this is beneficial. All true healing involves getting in touch with yourself.  Having every emanation reflected back to you helps.

Externally the spherical shape is well adapted to life in the forest.  It is bio- mimicry.  A hazard of life in the forest is trees and branches falling in a strong wind or ice storm.  A sphere distributes any impact stress throughout the skin and resists puncture or cracking.  Like a ping pong ball or a nut, it’s light with a tough skin.  The sphere is also suspended from ropes which stretch and absorb some of the impact.

The suspension concept is also bio-mimicry.  The idea is to have the sphere and web function naturally in its environment.  If something really big, like a tree,, falls through the web then some strands break and let it pass through.  The sphere remains suspended by the remaining strands.  A major disaster like that is not likely, but possible.  The spheres are well adapted to life in a large mature forest.

Everything including spiral stairways and suspension bridges is hung from ropes.  Trees are protected where ropes pass around them and the spiral stairways hug the trees.

The forest canopy is a magical environment.  Break the contact with the ground and the energy seems to shift.  Its hard not to think of elves and fairies or to not feel the presence of the forest.  That presence seems to dwell in the canopy where it can watch the meanderings below.

A sphere is easily moved around within the forest by ropes and tackles.  I have slung them from tree to tree during placement or removal.  They can also be helicoptered in to remote sites.  Finished weight is about 1100 lb.  Climbing the trees is the most difficult yet exhilarating work.  Typically it takes a crew of 3 men a day to get a sphere rigged in the trees.  Then it takes several more days to set up the stairway and suspension bridges.  The whole set-up comes down in a day and vanishes without a trace.

The motion in a sphere is abrupt when another body inside shifts his weight, because the mass of the sphere is low.  When you are settled in and the wind blows it results in a slow gentle rocking motion.  The rope tethers are almost vertical which lets the treetops move considerably while hardly moving the sphere at all.  The sphere movement is a muted average of the movement of the 3 treetops.

The prototype sphere, Eve, is a 9’ (2.8m) diameter yellow cedar sphere.  Her big sister Eryn is 10 ½’ (3.2m) in diameter and made of Sitka spruce.  Each is made of 2 perpendicular laminations of thin wooden strips glued together.  The wooden skin is then sanded and covered with 2 layers of woven fibreglass (GRP) roving set in epoxy.  The result is a clear fibreglass skin that looks like a heavy coat of varnish.  The grain and texture of the wood shines through.  The insides are wired for power, sound and telephone.  Mine also has a notebook computer and good speakers.  It’s a great place to watch DVD’s.  True surround sound.

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The spheres are insulated and vinyl upholstery fabric is stapled to the frames (lines of longitude).  Each fabric joint is then covered with a decorative wood strip.  The wood strips come together at the top and give a nice cathedral ceiling effect.  The interior joinery is yacht style with much brass trim, varnished wood and cane doors.  Future spheres will have fibreglass shells, artistically painted.  The interiors will be similar to Eryn.  Eryn has closets on either side of the door.  These function as partial bulkheads to reinforce the door opening as well as adding cupboard space.  There is a double bed on the right centered under the 40" window.  A settee with table is placed in front of the 42" window on the left.  The back wall opposite the door provides a galley area with counter, cupboards and a sink.  A microwave and refrigerator are also installed.  Above the galley area there is a loft bed with full sitting headroom at the center.  Circular shelf segments connect the loft bed to the cupboards on either side of the door.

Eryn at 10 ½’ diameter has 1.8 times the volume of Eve.  She also has 3 more windows.  Small ones over the galley counter and in the door, with a large skylight in the ceiling facing the door tree.  Every window is dished to the same radius as the sphere shell.  The spheres are easily heated with a small electric heater. 
Future improvements include a washroom/shower/sauna sphere complete with its own effluent treatment system.  It will produce only clean water and compost with luck.  Something that could serve a whole colony of spheres on a remote setting.

At present I am making replicas of the 10 1/2 ‘ sphere, Eryn.  My goal is to produce 10 – 15 more spheres and hang them all in a large area of old growth forest.  This will be used as a spiritual retreat for me and whoever else is interested. I am also selling completed spheres, shells and component kits for the “do it your selfers” who want to be able to finish out their own sphere.

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