Inspired by the indigenous Northeastern multifamily ‘longhouse’ as well as the traditional wood cabin, the Treehouse Lodge is a proposal for a year-round facility elevated amidst the woods west of Caribou Pond. The Lodge offers 8,750 square feet of conditioned space and has a capacity to host six permanent staff members and 36 guests.
Inspired by the main features of a Native American longhouse and the traditional wooden cabin, the cabin is raised from the ground to minimize its footprint in the wilderness and enrich visitor experience. As visitors approach the treehouse, they feel sense of warmth and coziness radiating from the dark wooden exterior, escaping the snow and hiding between the trees. Once inside, they mingle with other visitors in a vibrant yet calming interior, dropping their backpacks at their bunk room before enjoying a beer from the common area overlooking the wilderness.
Following the Maine Huts and Trails mission of providing low-impact access to nature and creating unique opportunities to experience Maine’s undisturbed woods, the lodge was designed using passive strategies aiming to minimize its footprint and impact on the environment both during its construction and operation. Capitalizing on the lumber harvesting industry of the Carrabassett Valley and to promote use of local materials, the design proposes a primary structural system made up of Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT) panels in combination with a foundation structural frame made up of timber piles driven into the ground and tree logs with bark intact for the diagonals. By elevating the CLT volume above the ground, minimal disturbance to the existing site conditions and water runoff patterns can be achieved.
The building offers the opportunity for rain and snow harvesting using the sloped roofs and collecting the water in the underside of floor deck.
When available, solar energy is captured through PV panels located on the southern-facing roof slopes. The excess power can be stored in batteries or can be used to pump stored water to higher water tank to be used as a “water battery”. The stored water can be run through a turbine to generate power when other sources are not as plentiful.
Similar to other Maine Huts and Trails lodges, hot water for domestic use and for the under-slab radiant floor heating system is supplied through a wood gasification boiler. Winter space heating is supplemented with localized individual wood burning stoves located strategically throughout the building.
Bio-digester toilet technology is proposed to manage human waste. The eco-friendly, maintenance free system is comprised of a bio-digester tank that uses a combination of anaerobic bacteria to convert the organic waste into methane and carbon dioxide. The biogas can in turn be used domestically for cooking and water heating. Kitchen stoves will be equipped with a special valve to pre-mix the biogas with the right amount of oxygen and burners to ensure proper combustion and efficient use of the mixture. The slurry leftover from the digester can be used as fertilizer in the garden area near the entrance of the building.