These Tree Houses in the Dolomites Look Like Egg-Shaped Pinecones

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By Michele Koh Morollo
In the woods of Malborghetto Valbruna in the Italian Dolomite commune of Tarvisio is a pair of egg-shaped tree houses that appear to hover in midair, like fruit of the forests.

Named Pigna tree houses, the structures were created by Tarvisio-based architect Claudio Beltrame in collaboration with DomusGaia, an Italian firm that manufactures wooden prefabricated homes

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The tree houses were first developed for an architectural competition in 2014, but later became part of a Tarvisio mountain farmhouse retreat called Malga Priu and are now available for holiday rentals through sustainable vacation rental agency Ecobnb

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Inspired by the shape of pinecones, the tree houses' frames are made with cross-laminated Xlam timber with wooden fiber insulation. Larch wood shingles are used to create a cladding around the egg-shaped exteriors, creating a pine-like texture. 

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Approximately 28 feet tall, each compact, 377-square-foot tree house is raised about 33 feet off the ground. 

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The living areas are spread across three levels and connected by wooden stairs. Curved windows with 360-degree views and sliding doors on the first level, along with two sheltered balconies on the second level, frame spectacular Alpine views. 

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Each structure is anchored to the trees that surround it, and both levels of each house can be accessed via a walkway or outdoor stairs. The first level also includes a panoramic sheltered terrace. 

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The living room, kitchen, bathroom, and balconies are located on the second level. 

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The third level includes a domed bedroom with a skylight right above the double bed at the top of the structure. 

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"The project started from the desire to create a structure that's not only a refuge, but also a natural element of its environment—a mimesis of its surroundings," says Pigna's architect Beltrame. 

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Project Credits: 

- Architecture: Architetto  Beltrame Claudio

- Builder: DomusGaia 

- Structural engineer: Loris Borean 

- Collaborators: Luca Beltrame, Gabriele Pascutti