Biku Treehouses by Baca Architects
Location: Biku, Panama Island
Status: Seeking Funding
Baca Architects has designed a cocoa pod-shaped treehouse for an eco-hotel located on a secluded Panama island, which is accessible only by boat. The practice was asked to design the treehouse as well as a larger residence for the Bíku Treehouse Retreat on the Bocas del Toro archipelago. The chain of islands in the Caribbean Sea is known for their scenic natural parks, made up of forests and mangroves that provide a habitat for hundreds of species. The treehouse’s design aims to take advantage of the idyllic setting through a broad panoramic opening at one side of its bulbous form, splitting it in two like a cocoa pod.
The fascination with treehouses around the world has inspired some of the most fascinating and unusual architectural creations. From a UFO to a Bird’s Nest, or a 727 airplane to more modern cubist structures, resort developers are creating unique offerings for travelers. The chain of islands in the Caribbean is known for its beautiful natural forests filled with mangroves and a verdant habitat for wildlife. The treehouse’s design will take advantage of the setting through a panoramic opening at one side of its rounded form, splitting it in two like a cocoa pod. The forms are inspired by cocoa pods and other seed structures found in the rainforests of Panama.
The young owners are Ariel Stephenson and Zabrina Shield. Ariel is Panamanian, from Bocas del Toro and Zabrina is British. Ariel has lived outside of Panama since he was 17 and has been living in the UK for more than 15 years. He has worked in the hospitality industry for more than 20 years at some of the top hotels in London including The Soho, Covent, and ACE Hotel. Zabrina is a nature and culture lover with a passion for Latin America.
Bamboo was picked as the primary material for the 270 square foot treehouse, due to its abundance in Panama and to make use of local construction knowledge. To reduce the need for construction vehicles on-site, parts of the structure will be prefabricated and assembled on the island. This also means the structure can be deconstructed without leaving permanent traces on the site. A spiral staircase wrapping the trunk of the tree, as well as the treehouse’s structure, will all be made from bamboo.