Israeli architects grow a “tree” to get us playing outdoors


An old pine tree in the courtyard at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem inspired architects Ifat Finkelman and Deborah Warschawski to design a modern treehouse. The slatted wood structure sits at the entrance of the museum’s Youth Wing for Art Education, and it’s attracting children and adults in equal numbers. Who would think a museum installation could incite aerobic activity?

“As a tribute to the childhood collective memory of a treehouse, we positioned a small roofed structure where children can hide and overlook at high up a tilted trunk raised above the meticulous surroundings of the museum,” the architects told Archiscene.


The structure arises from a ground level deck, an open walkway that proceeds to a series of ramps that lead to the actual treehouse. That walkway dies double duty as a seating area, a popular gathering point for museum visitors and watchful parents. Children can also access the interior via a metal pole with foot pegs.

An old pine tree anchors the design.  It pierces through the cantilevered tree house, accentuated by a corset of netting that protects the tree while encouraging kids to clamor and climb about its trunk. The tree house itself is supported by a steel frame, covered with a lattice of thin timber planks, making the structure appear delicate and airy, especially at night when it’s the only part of the playground to be illuminated.


The area beneath the building is covered with a soft EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer) matting, a synthetic rubber material that is frequently made from post-industrial recyclables. (Note: Green Prophet was unable to ascertain the specific properties of the material used in this project.)  The pliable rubber surface hides the underground infrastructure such as electrical conduit, drainage system, and the tree’s widespread root system.


The IMJ Tree House provides a new gathering point for visitors of all ages. As with the German designers who crafted the sculptural “stroller-coaster”, and the surreal submerged “bridge” that parts Dutch waters by Ro-Ad Architecten, we say kudos to these architects for designing another static structure that encourages human motion.

Images by Dezeen and Amit Geron

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