There’s an intriguing link between action sports and the tiny house/minimalist living movement that bubbles up from time to time.
I’m not sure what it is — the willingness to take chances and embrace risks, a deep and abiding love of the natural world, a desire to keep moving and avoid the staid — but here it is again, a beautiful, hand-built tiny house project with a Warped Tour twist.
This one, located in the waterfall-heavy wonderland otherwise known as the Columbia River Gorge (on the Washington side of the river in Skamania County, to be exact), isn’t just a tiny house but a tiny treehouse — two treehouses actually, each 220-square-feet, nestled high above the rolling southwest Washington landscape in a pair of mighty Douglas firs. For added thrills (and views), the main treehouse is linked to the secondary treehouse used as a guest cottage and studio by fixed staircase and an only slightly terrifying-looking rope bridge.
This triple-platform arboreal escape is no doubt the centerpiece of Cinder Cone, a rural compound named after the volcanic formations — a “steep conical hill of tephra (volcanic debris) that accumulates around and downhill from a volcanic vent” — that dot the stratovolcano-dominated (Mount Hood, Mount St. Helens, et al.) region. However, it’s the reinforced concrete skate bowl and wood-fired hot tub built into the hillside beneath the tree shelters that really make it special.
Skateboarder/surfer/photographer/blogger/wabi-sabi adherent/professional vagabond/adventurer extraordinaire (phew!) Foster Huntington describes the creation of Cinder Cone as the realization of a childhood dream. But seriously, what preteen boy doesn’t fantasize about living in a treehouse-studded property with a mini skate park and a hot tub at his full disposal?
Huntington decided to create Cinder Cone as a more permanent residence after spending three years — and over 100,000 miles — living a merrily nomadic existence in a camper van, an experience documented in his book “Home is Where You Park It.” Huntington, who quit his job in New York City and hit the road in 2011 on the quest for a more adventurous and more meaningful life, is also behind the #vanlife social media phenomeon.
The treehouses themselves are located on family-owned property. It was Huntington’s family (his mom’s a carpenter) and a group of friends, some with carpentry experience and some without, that pitched in and helped throughout the six-month process. Tucker Gorman, an Oakland-based treehouse designer and a friend from Huntington’s college days at Colby College in Maine, also played a crucial role in the design/build process.
As noted by Kimberley Mok at sister site TreeHugger, the realization of Huntington’s stunningly realized childhood dream didn’t come dirt cheap: the price tag for Cinder Cone, skate bowl included, was roughly $170,000.
As for the skate bowl, he told action sports website Mpora late last year that “I’d much rather have a bowl than a $3,000 chair. Not everyone can sit there and enjoy your chair. This is something that’s so much more inclusive than like some expensive art or a really nice kitchen.”
On the topic of money, Huntington also needs your help — not for the project itself but for a secondary project, a book documenting the creation of Cinder Cone, that Huntington plans to self-publish and release in the same vein as his Kickstarter-funded “Home is Where You Park It.”
He writes on the project’s Kickstarter campaign page:
Since finishing the tree houses, I’ve been organizing these images, drawings and notes into a book. This book will be different than my last two photo books. Think of it as one part instructional book, one part photo book, and one part tiny homes book. My goal is to make something that shows the process from dreaming up a seemingly outlandish idea to the final result after thousands of hours of hard work and the moments that happened in between. I hope that the result ignites the imagination of people’s inner kid and gets ideas going for their own projects.
Crowdfunded treehouse photography books aside, Cinder Cone is a breathtaking work of arboreal architecture set against one of the most naturally stunning areas in all of North America (see you this summer, Hood River!).
It’s an escape, for sure, but not a fully off-the-grid one as Huntington explains to Mpora: “People have these notions that you have to move into the city but you really don’t. I have Wi-Fi here and full 4G internet. And that’s all I need to make a living, so I could be here or I could be in Manhattan and it’s way cheaper to do what I’m doing here.” He adds: “It’s just about being inspired by what’s around you. That’s what the treehouses are about to me.”
Via [Designboom], [Mpora]
Photos: Foster Huntington
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