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Jan Kattein Architects unwraps €450 treehouse

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London-based Jan Kattein Architects has built this treehouse in Sounio, Greece


The 5.5m² structure, named the red-blue house, has been built in the grounds of the Kattein family’s Greek Modernist home.

The building is the first in a series of small-scale structures the family plans to build in the grounds of the house.

Built up an olive tree, the treehouse features lattice walls, floor and roof which filter out the afternoon sun while allowing the breeze to pass through.

Red-blue House by Jan Kattein Architects

Red-blue House by Jan Kattein Architects

Architect’s view

Every year, three generations spend their summer in the compact, Greek Modernist house in Sounio, Attica. Planning restrictions prohibit further development nearby. Spatial constraints and warm weather invite domestic life out into the open. Growing space, play space, social space, dining space and learning space each compete for a shady nook.

Simple construction techniques and locally available materials have engaged all family members in the construction process. Adjustable, cushioned fixings allow the tree to grow. A pliable external envelope allows the structure to respond to a dynamic site with high winds and cyclical weather patterns.

The slats forming walls, roof and floor play an optical trick on the viewer. Seen from the south, the house appears in a distinct red colour, from the north, it’s blue. On the inside, the occupant experiences a hypnotic visual sensation. The dappled sunlight, animated by the trembling olive leafs causes a dynamic purple hue to emanate from between the slats as the sun rays reflect and refract off the coloured surfaces. 

Red-blue House by Jan Kattein Architects

Red-blue House by Jan Kattein Architects

Project data

Location Sounio, Attica, Greece
Type of project Tree house
Client Emilia, Nefeli & Melina Kattein and Athina and Dimitris Makris
Architect Jan Kattein Architects
Funding crowdfunding
Start on site date June 2015
Completion date August 2016
Contract duration 14 months
Gross internal floor area 5.5m2
Form of contract and/or procurement self-build
Total cost €450

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