The Yellow Treehouse

The Yellow Treehouse

The Yellow Treehouse brief challenged Aucklander Tracey Collins to build a restaurant halfway up a redwood pine tree, using nothing but contacts from Yellow’s website, mobile app and book, with just 3 months to complete it! Pacific Environments worked to design a treehouse that captured people’s imagination, yet was within the ‘realms of reality’. It was achieved through the design of a chrysalis inspired pod-form wrapped around the trunk of a tree. Capable of supporting 25 diners, the treehouse needed to comply with all building requirements including access for disabled.


The Architectural inspiration largely came from the site – an open fairytale meadow and stream in the midst of a redwood forest plantation. The challenge was in creating this vision. There were no precedents for treehouse restaurants, the project was entirely unique.


At 10 meters wide and over 14 meters high, with split-level floor sitting 10 meters above the ground, the treehouse is sustainably constructed from timber. Trusses form the main structure and curved glue-laminated pine fins and popular slats create the structures organic form. Windows are created by leaving spaces between the slats, this keeps the overall form yet affords a variety of permability for views and light. Access is via a 60m tree-top walkway – an adventure in itself.

Supporting the structure via the tree turned out to be a counter intuitive solution. In consultation with a specialist arborist team, the metal cuff supporting the glu-lam structure is fixed via rods that pierce through the trunk. This ensured that the trunks growth was not constrained.

Environmental impact

All timber used was sourced sustainably. with extremely low ecological impact and footprint. The glu-lam timber fins creating the rhythm and form of the structure are Pinus-Radiata, with Poplar battens ‘feathering’ between. Acrylic sheeting forms the roof allowing sunlight to enter with the views for the diners to the treetops and stars in the night sky.


The Yellow Treehouse campaign drew unprecedented attention, featuring on over 20,000 websites internationally and in the pages of well over 100 different magazines, from architecture, food to sustainability. It was reviewed on every major New Zealand television channel and was the lead story on the front page of the New Zealand Herald. The project also won a raft of awards.

      • NZIA National Design Award 2012
      • D&AD Yellow Pencil Award (UK) 2012
      • Best Awards – Gold Spatial 2009
      • NZIA Auckland Branch Award 2009
      • NZ Institute of Building National Excellence Award 2009
      • World Architecture Awards finalist 2009
      • NZ Timber Design Society Design Award 2009
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