Press release

Tree & A project sees students branch out

Published on 12 June 2019

A luxury eco treehouse designed in the style of V&A Dundee is set for the grounds of the city’s Taypark House Hotel after a competition win by two Architecture students at the University of Dundee.

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Subject to planning and approval, the ‘Tree & A’ will be built in the grounds of the four-star hotel over the next year and will offer guests lavish accommodation and stunning views over the River Tay and the University’s Botanic Garden when complete.

Taypark management worked with Architecture staff at the University to create a brief challenging students to design an en-suite studio inspired by the V&A Dundee for the tree-enclosed site. The design proposed by third-year students Nicoline Spanns and Richard Stalker was chosen as the winner. In addition to seeing their vision realised, they will receive a weekend stay in the treehouse as a prize.

The 50m2 structure will be built using local larch steam-bent to resemble the distinctive concrete curves of Kengo Kuma’s stunning building. Innovative power, water and waste solutions will help to reduce its environmental impact.

Nicoline (24) said she and Richard were delighted to have been announced as winners of the competition and were excited about seeing their first design built.

“I used to live across the water in Fife so it was inspirational to come over the bridge every day and see this amazing building rise up,” she said. “It has very quickly become such a huge part of the city and one of the biggest selling points for Dundee. It’s fun to think that people who come to Dundee to visit the V&A might end up staying in the cool little studio inspired by it that we designed.”

The treehouse will be accessed via a bridge from the hotel garden and Richard (21) says that he and Nicoline’s design was influenced not just by the V&A but the wider city.

“We wanted to take inspiration from elements of the whole Waterfront,” he said. “The floor plan and layout match that of the V&A but we also planned a pond for the grounds that represents the River Tay. The access bridge will be built over the pond and represents the Tay Bridge.

“It has been a great time to be studying in Dundee to see the impact that a piece of properly designed architecture can have on people. It shows how important it is for architecture to really connect with the public.”

Taypark owner Richie Hawkins, himself a Dundee graduate, praised Nicoline and Richard for taking inspiration not just from the V&A Dundee but also the hotel’s location.

He said, “We are always trying to do something a bit different and thought about how we could make the most of this beautiful garden full of mature trees. We knew a luxury en-suite treehouse would have great views across Botanic Garden and the river and this design really helps us make the most of what we have here. I am delighted with what Richard and Nicoline came up with.

“With everything that is going on in Dundee we wanted to celebrate the city. Local larch will be provided by a local sawmill and we hope whole thing will be as eco-friendly as possible. The aim is for the treehouse to be wheelchair accessible via the bridge link which will one of a kind around this area. 

“We will begin the planning process in the next month and are hoping that we will be ready to open in time for the summer 2020 season.”


Press Office, University of Dundee