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Charred wood treehouse creates a simple backyard play space

A grandfather commissioned the project to show his grandchildren a low-tech way to have fun

Wooden pitch-roofed treehouse in a backyard. João Carranca

Ah, the versatile beauty of the treehouse. For some, it can be endless architectural inspiration; for others, it’s a classic ode to childhood. This treehouse in a backyard in Cascais, Portugal, is a little bit of both.

Architecture studio Madeiguincho designed the treehouse for a grandfather who wanted to give his grandchildren a place to play without glowing screens. And indeed, the simple charred wood structure is resolutely and refreshingly analog.

The architects built the small house around three existing trees—a large cedar cutting through the floor and ceiling of the interior, and two other that support the generous deck.

A toddler walks on a play mat inside a small treehouse. João Carranca

Accessed via a rather steep set of stairs, the treehouse stretches into a mini barn of sorts covered by a gabled roof. The floors and walls are cut from natural wood, creating a warm cozy atmosphere especially when the sun is shining.

The ends of the treehouse feature glass walls with slatted wood that cast playful patterns of light and shadow across the interior. It’s not an iPad, but we’ll go ahead and say it’s plenty mesmerizing.

The inside of a wooden treehouse shows an entryway with a glass panel, looking out to the deck. João Carranca
The inside of a wooden treehouse with glass walls and wooden slats casting shadows on all surfaces. João Carranca