Scientists believe that early human ancestors, like most great ape species, dwelled in trees. More recently in human history, treehouses became popular in the Roman era and then later in the Renaissance, when the wealthy Medici family constructed them in the gardens of their villas in the Tuscan countryside. And in the mid-19th century, a Parisian suburb called Le Plessis-Robinson drew fashionable city dwellers to its chestnut-tree bars and restaurants, where roast chicken and champagne would be carried up to diners on rope pulley systems.
Today, treehouses are still common in regions of Asia with seasonal flooding, and the Korowai people in Papua, Indonesia, continue to live in treehouses to avoid capture by rival clans. In Western culture, new building technologies, a growing interest in the use of environmentally sustainable materials, and a desire to escape city life and retreat into nature have fueled a resurgence of interest in treehouses in recent years. (The most wished-for listing
on Airbnb worldwide is a treehouse located in the heart of Atlanta. The house is divided into three distinct areas—“Mind,” a sitting room for reading and relaxing; “Body,” a bedroom that sleeps two; and “Spirit,” a hammock deck surrounding a 165-year-old pine tree.)
Below are eight of the most fascinating modern treehouses around the world, designed by leading architectural studios; small, eco-forward firms specializing in treehouses; and free spirits in search of an off-the-grid lifestyle. Some are private residences, while others are hotels or educational centers welcoming the most adventurous of nature fanatics.