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.



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: