Architecture studio Precht has unveiled Bert, a family of modular houses that are shaped by playfulness and invite people to experience architecture and nature through the eyes of children. Bert is the first collaboration of Precht with Baumbau, a start-up that specializes on tiny homes, treehouses and buildings for alternative tourism.
“We are fully aware that architecture is this serious and profound craft with a long culture and tradition,” explains the studio. “You see that when we architects find a reference for our projects in art, philosophy, literature or nature. For this project, we also looked at art to find a reference. But not at Michaelangelo or Dali. Rather we looked at cartoon characters of Sesamestreet or Minions. We took a playful look at this project and wanted to create a rather unique character than a conventional building. A quirky looking character that becomes part of the wildlife of a forest. I think this quirkiness can create feelings and emotions. And maybe these are attributes in architecture that are missing these days.”
Bert was conceptualized as a treehouse that was shaped by the forest. Like a trunk of a tree, the building connects to the soil on a minimal footprint. All functions are stacked above and branch out in different directions. The leaf-like shingles on the facade are kept in various shades of browns and camouflages the structures with the natural background.
For regions with little cultivated forestry and wood-craftsmanship, the main wood-structure can be replaced by steel. With that concept, Baumbau can work globally on unique structures. Although Bert was designed as a tiny home, it is also possible to arrange the modules in larger configurations. From garden houses to multifamily homes to hotels or developments in the city. Bert is conceived as a modular building system and all its parts are prefabricated in a factory and put together on site.
Throughout its life-span, Bert is flexible to grow taller and wider by adding new modules. Bert is developed as an independent character with solar panels either on roof or off-site, a composting toilet and a water treatment facility on the ground floor. “Designing Bert, we tried to remember back to our childhood when we were climbing trees and building shelters with branches,” says Precht. “We experienced nature in a 3 dimensional way and saw our surrounding as a playground.”
“We tried to look at Bert from this perspective. How would children imagine a treehouse?“ asks Fei Tang Precht. “As architects, no matter if young or old, we have an inner child that looks at the world with playfulness and curiosity. That curiosity makes us want to explore, experiment and create. That same curiosity gave birth to Bert.”
The smallest structures of Bert start at €120.000 (∼ $136.350 USD) and can be upgraded and extended by add-ons and modules. The first structures are expected to roll out in spring 2020.