TREEHOUSES – JUST A GREEN DREAM?

“In the Norse tradition ‘crossing the Black Forest’
came to signify penetrating the barriers between
one world and another.”              (Francis Gentry)

In the South-Western part of Germany you will find a wide mountainous area even called today Black Forest (Schwarzwald), and the name originates most probably from the Old Norse noun Myrkviðr (meaning mirky wood or black forest) as part of the Germanic-Scandinavian mythology Edda. In this context the woodlands were a holy place for magic rituals around the all-connecting world tree Yggdrasil. The German tales collected and published by Gebrüder Grimm in the 19th century tell us a lot of stories regarding these sometimes quite bizarre forest sites, while the author J. R. R. Tolkien adopted this dense and green place much more recently as the gloomy Mirkwood,  a Northern jungle full of primeval mysteries.

milne-bay-papua-new-guinea_1884Constructing a treehouse at Papua-New Guinea
Illustration by Otto Finsch, 1884

Our much older ancestors, the monkeys, once did a new thing. Hitherto there had been the earth-bound animals with legs and the air-borne animals with wings. The monkeys left the ground without riding the air and made the trees their habitation, and this was incorporated in our genetic codes while human children do like normally very much climbing or housing on trees as a self-evident game. So the green trees and the wide forests mean certainly our original (mostly previous) homeland here on Earth. Therefore it is also not astonishing that Buddha has only attained enlightenment under a tree, the sacred fig named Bodhi. Such natural mythological places and symbols were destroyed everywhere in Europe as part of a violent missioning Christian crusade starting in the 6th century which completely ignored the fact that plants and trees are living much longer and obviously in greater diversity than our species on this planet and deserve our full respect.

Destruction of the Saxonian Irminsul by Charlemagne 772,
illustration by Heinrich Leutemann 1882

Nowadays – as part of a recollection to nature as a value in itself which is not at all a romantic question – modern architecture discovers again trees as an integral part of constructing houses worldwide. This development gets most visible at the two Bosco Verticale towers at Milan where real trees and bushes have been set on its balconies with the aim to create one hectare of forest as part of a modern appartment building in the very centre of a densely populated big town. But here the basic materials of construction remain concrete and glass, so the trees and bushes resemble more or less just a green attachment, a planted facade. So I was really enthusiastic when I stumbled over the information some time ago that urban treehouses are existing not far away in my town, because in the concept of such buildings trees are standing in the centre of design and creation.

dsc_0281Sideview of ‘Urban Treehouse’ at Berlin / Germany

Cabanes La Grande Noë - MoulicentInviting terrace at ‘La Grande Noe’ / France  © Cabanes de la Grande Noe

A treehouse in a big city like Berlin, that sounds quite strange first of all. But for the architects & builders of the Urban Treehouse-project this is the most relevant part of their conceptual design in order to connect nature and a modern kind of urban living on a high level. So they have built two of these small treehouses on a premise directly situated at Berlin’s great forest Grunewald and not far away from the nice lake Krumme Lanke at the district of Zehlendorf. If you intend to go somewhere in the city centre, the next subway station can be reached from there easily and in short-time. So both can be appreciated when living in these houses: the joys of nature and the diverse advantages of a European capital. Hence, this is a mere private project which can be only used by family members for a very delightful stay someday. 

dsc_0269Streetview of ‘Urban Treehouse’ at Berlin / Germany

grandenoe_birdnestsBird-nests at ‘La Grande Noe’  / France   © Cabanes de la Grande Noe

As a part of a more adventure focused tourism treehouse hotels in Europe are quite popular in Germany and France, few others can be also found in Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Great Britain and Turkey – in total at least 50 rural sites all around in Europe.  The accomodation prices are quite often comparable to a stay in a 5-star-hotel, as they definitely offer some kind of deluxe today, a place for dreaming like a bird. At Cabanes de la Grande Noe (being situated in the Normandy  countryside of France) six different houses can be rented for 2 or more people on a family run domain. All of them are built merely with wood around or in the trees, such reflecting the traditional way of constructing these kind of houses. So here you have the possibility to experience the rural and puristic treehouse feeling, but with breakfast served and brought to the treehouse each morning – what a luxury wilderness.

If you possibly intend to build a treehouse sometimes lateron just for yourself, the following book will be in any case helpful and animating:  Be in a Treehouse: Design / Construction / Inspiration by Pete Nelson also available in German Die wunderbare Welt der Baumhäuser: Design – Konstruktion – Inspiration, Pete Nelson.

DCIM100MEDIA

NOTHING AT/AND ALL

The biggest enemy of patience is called nowadays action bias, meaning the craving for doing something always at any time. Why not just start doing nothing or even feel the nothing?

And in this mysterious mood everything comes to the vain blow, because the plastic world staged the cosmic blackout. But to untangle the world of the Maya can only succeed in pure nothingness, an unstructured space without end or still beginning – and yet no space.

Here the words simply fail and hence everything starts all of a sudden nowhere again. According to the unwritten riddles of cosmogony, the jump to the true non-place now succeeds.

MY NEAREST MOUNTAIN – CRAZY TEUFELSBERG IN BERLIN

Today, I would like to introduce you to the mountainous aspects of Berlin. Downtown there are of course some quite higher tops like Kreuzberg and Prenzlauer Berg which make me thinking of the funny film dealing about an English man who climbed on a hill and came down a mountain (that’s also the film’s title).

Postcard with view from Kreuzberg in 1866

But the nearest and more well-known and highest elevation of Berlin is Teufelsberg / Devil’s Mountain in the huge municipal forest Grunewald and just 2 km distant from my home – even with rising sea levels a safe place due to an actual height of unbelievable 120.1 m, a location which also offers an interesting and surprising history.

Deceptive idyll on Teufelsberg in June 2018

Being geologically one of the youngest mountains worldwide, the 50th birthday of the location has just passed by, a critical age where a lot may change usually in the course of times as the following pictures of the site do clearly suggest.

Today Teufelsberg a center of urban art, the very last mutation of a bizarre place.

But let’s see what happened before here. At the end of WW II you would simply find a flat forest and the bombed rests of a big building formerly used by the German Wehrmacht as a military academy. This place was lying in the British sector of (West)-Berlin where no German army was allowed till the early 1990s when the special status of the city ended with the German unification. So nobody had any use for these military ruins left by the Nazis.

Ruins of Wehrtechnische Fakultät at Teufelsseechaussee

Vast areas of the town were also destroyed as a result of WW II, so this was declared as a place where all the debris and rubble of smashed houses would be brought till the late 1960s, in total 26 million cubic meters of waste material piled up to a new mountain getting the name Teufelsberg  because the site is lying at the road Teufelsseechausee leading finally to natural lake Teufelssee.

A truck transporting rubble to Teufelsberg, December 1951

Nature took quickly control of this dump, so today the mountain is covered by a wild nature and secondary forest. And the people of West-Berlin used the new mountain also for leisure like  snow sports as it was difficult to go elsewhere for quite long time due to the Wall of Berlin surrounding them till 1989.

Ski lift on Teufelsberg (120.1 m), Winter 1961

Down the mountain’s not too long slope, December 1981

But the mountain has also been the last listening post of the Cold War. In the years 1968 the American army seized the complete top area of the mountain and erected till 1969 a radar and monitoring station for intelligence purposes such as controlling telephone conversations in the former German Democratic Republic. The secret name of these constructing and supervising ambitions was Project Filman. The last and fifth tower was built and finalized in 1989 shortly before the political transitions and opening of the Wall of Berlin. With the unificiation of Germany this complex was no longer required, the American army left the place in 1991 changing the area to a mere ghost town.

Teufelsberg radar and monitoring station by US-army in the 1980s

Path around the complex through the secondary forest, June 2018

Pioneer plants conquered the place in the time being which grew in the cracks of the asphalt and even settled on roofs. Undemanding plants such as the evening primrose, the stonecrop or the elder have laid the groundwork that it is today very green on top of the Teufelsberg. The complex was sold to an investor who planned a hotel and luxury appartments on the mountain. But after getting many millions of loan for the project from the banks, he was never seen again in the city. Some years ago this area has also been declared as forestrial land making impossible such luxury projects in the future. 

One of the decaying radiation domes, August 2019

Colorful wildness of the ruins, August 2019

The abandoned and still militarywise fenced place attracted of course the urban art and graffiti community. So in the ruins you find today a vast diversity of amazing colorant works of any kind. The domes can no longer be visited due to their bad conditions, but the unique complex is huge and can be visited against payment of an entrance fee. Meanwhile another change, the city awarded this wild site the relevant status of a real protected monument. So history can be just fabulous sometimes!

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Tuesday Photo Challenge – City

 

CONTEMPORARY MAELSTROMS

 

In the postmodern white waters a seemingly paradoxical option emerges all of a sudden from the depths of mind which commands to insist vividly on the rule of vague exceptions and while following this intuitive desire to drift away on the waves of a final eternal ambition.

Only a little bit later in the sphere of phantastic probabilities, the restless vagabond approaches subsequently the all penetrating net with speed of light where cause and effect of intentions are mututally eliminating and reversing themselves in a material torrent of final escape.

 

BOHEMIAN STREET-DREAMS

Our short summer-trip led us finally to old cities of Bohemia on our way back home to Berlin. So we have  stayed finally at Budweis and Cesky Krumlov for a night and a day, enough time for collecting some interesting and nice street-impressions while loafing through these towns.

Old houses at Cesky Krumlov

Specially decorated distribution box for electricity

Greened facade and door

Strange advertisement for an art-gallery at Budweis

Former Austrian Emperor hanging over the bar at Restaurant Schwejk in Cesky Krumlov

Medieval watch-tower in Budweis at midnight

Market-place of Cesky Krumlov

 Fashion outlook in a shop’s window

The lovely studio house of the Austrian painter Egon Schiele at Cesky Krumlov

Egon Schiele, Stadtende (Häuserbogen III), 1913

Hardly any other place inspired Egon Schiele as much as Cesky Krumlov, one of the most beautiful Renaissance cities in Europe and an architectural jewel of first order. Despite the really too many tourists today, you still find very quiet and inspiring places in the city or optionally just make a surprising rafting tour on  Vitava river around the beautiful and impressive city. 

Vitava River is usually a calm place for rafting, but there are also some rapids around Cesky Krumlov which require a little bit of care in order to avoid an unintended bath in the cool waters