Tree Huts for All Ages

September 29, 2008


One of the greatest pleasures of Tadashi Kawamata’s Tree Huts artist-in-residency program has been witnessing faces of all ages light up as visitors walk into Madison Square Park and look up to see the results of Tadashi’s transformative artwork.  The sounds of power saws in the Southwest corner of the park have been punctuated by constant camera flashes; a steady stream of visitors to Tree Huts HQ have told us how these works bring back fond childhood memories and temporarily relieve the stresses of our frenetic urban lifestyle.


No smiles have wider, however, than those of our youngest park visitors, for whom these huts are as much magic as artwork.  For children, the excitement the Tree Huts inspire is clearly palpable and enormously gratifying for our team.  With them in mind, Madison Square Park Conservancy’s recreation and education coordinator Vera Doherty and Program Coordinator Alison Hughes organized a Tree Huts-inspired Family Art workshop in Madison Square Park on Saturday, September 27.  The gallery above will show you just how much fun we had.  More photos to come as depiction releases trickle in.



Tree Huts, days 2-4

September 27, 2008

We’re halfway through Tadashi Kawamata’s Tree Huts residency and have right on pace with six and a half huts up.  All day, rain or shine, Tadashi and his crew have been performing a delicate high-wire act and making some beautiful art.  The photos in the slideshow above (see them in larger format on the Mad. Sq. Huts Flickr page) show just how far we have come.

Day One

September 24, 2008

Day one of the Tree Huts installation is complete!  Tadashi and his crew got an early start and wasted no time getting to work, managing to build the better part of two tree huts in the Southwest corner of the park near 23rd Street and 5th Avenue/Broadway, all while taking questions from print and broadcast journalists from all over the world (seriously–TV viewers in Brazil and Italy will be treated to footage of Tadashi at work).

Don’t forget that Tadashi Kawamata and his crew are available to answer questions and meet the public every day from 12:30-1:00 PM.  Come say hello at Tree Huts HQ!

A commenter raised an important question today: Will the Tree Hutsharm their host trees?  The answer is a resounding no–but the question is worth exploring.  Tree huts are a recently emerging theme in Tadashi Kawamata’s artistic repertoire, and as he has developed this aspect of his practice he has honed a few techniques that allow him to build in trees without damaging these living organisms.

 By wrapping tree branches in a rubber sheath and using heavy-duty racheting straps to secure lumber to the wrapped sections (see above, photos 1 & 2), Tadashi protects the trees’ sensitive bark while affixing cut lumber to the tree.  The lumber strapped to the trees can then be used as fastening points for the tree hut floors, all while ensuring that under no circumstances is the tree bark penetrated, scraped off or otherwise harmed.  Mad. Sq. Art has had the pleasure of working with the tree experts at Urban Arborist and the engineering masterminds at Thornton Tomasetti to select strong, healthy trees and to generate building procedures that will make this exhibition safe for Madison Square Park’s people and plants.

 Lastly, an admirerer of Tadashi Kawamata’s named David sent us these images of a wonderful tree house he built in South Africa (see above, photos 3 & 4).  Not only is it easy on the eyes, it is a fully functioning office!  Not bad at all.  Have you ever made a tree house?  Let us know:

Ready, Set…

September 23, 2008

Monday, September 22 was load-in day.  Telescopic forklifts, boom lifts, tons of lumber, table saws and power drills all made their way to Madison Square Park, as did Tadashi Kawamata.  He arrived as the sun was setting for an evening meeting with his assistants, our engineers and tree care specialists.

Today we start building!  Don’t forget, Tadashi and his crew will be meeting and greeting the public from 12:30 – 1:00 PM every day at Tree Huts HQ, in the southwest corner of Madison Square Park at 23rd St. and 5th Avenue. See you there….

Welcome to the online home of Tree Huts, Tadashi Kawamata’s artist-in-residency program (from September 23 through October 1, 2008) culminating in a site-specific installation of wooden huts in the trees of historic Madison Square Park in New York City.   Tree Huts is presented by Mad. Sq. Art, the free public art program of the Madison Square Park Conservancy, and the exhibition will be on view through December 31, 2008.

Everyone is welcome to watch this world-renowned artist transform Madison Square Park from 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM during the artist-in-residency period.  Every day from 12:30 to 1:00 PM, Tadashi Kawamata  and his crew will have lunch with the press and public at Tree Huts HQ in the southwest corner of Madison Square Park, providing an opportunity for interactive and educational exchange with the many thousands of visitors Madison Square Park receives every day.  On Saturday, June 27, kids can get in on the action too, with make-your-own-hut workshops taking place from 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM in Madison Square Park’s award-winning playground and exploration station.

Be sure to check this blog often to see the progress as Tadashi Kawamata: Tree Huts transforms Madison Square Park. We encourage you to share your Tree Huts experience with us so that we can share them with the world through this blog.  Photos, reflections, questions and comments are all welcome at  Just be sure to put “Tree Huts” in the subject line.

See you in the park!