For $2K, Brooklyn Architects Build An Indoor Treehouse (With Kitty!)

Bushwick — yes, Bushwick — summons its inner Swiss Family Robinson.

You read that right: Someone has gone and built a treehouse and a cabin in the concrete bowels of Brooklyn — in Bushwick, no less, one of the concrete-iest, bowel-iest Brooklyn neighborhoods.


Mind you, the structures aren’t sticking out on a corner somewhere, announcing their gooey Emersonian ideals to the whole neighborhood; they’re nested safely inside a loft, in a capacious former textiles factory. “As a result, living in the space can feel like living outdoors, in a tiny community of two houses,” the architects, Katz Chiao, say cheerily. (Of course, this being Bushwick, we have to assume that what passes for a sense of “living outdoors” is unobstructed views of cars on fire.)

“It feels like living outdoors, in a tiny community.”

So the place is no Walden Pond! Still, it does a good job of tackling a common problem in loft apartments: They’re woefully short on privacy. That prompts most architects to throw up floor-to-ceiling walls, obliterating all the clear sight lines and natural light that make lofts so seductive in the first place. But by constructing little plywood buildings within the building, Katz Chiao (made up of Terri Chiao, who did the design work here, and Deborah Grossberg Katz) managed to create two private bedrooms without sacrificing the sunny, loft feel. A pitched roof atop the cabin and an elevated floor in the treehouse maintain openness throughout the space, and windows punched into both structures usher sunlight into the bedrooms. The rest of the loft is given over to communal living: It’s got a family room, a kitchen, and a big table for eating and working. Chiao shares the apartment with a roommate and her cat, Boo. (Hi, Boo!)

Katz Chiao built the whole thing for just $2,000. That’s pretty damn cheap for a project that effectively turned a studio into a full-blown two bedroom. (Apparently, Chiao and Scott had a lot of friends and neighbors willing to swing a hammer for free.) With all the cash they saved, we reckon they could build a third cabin — Boo might need some privacy, too.

[Images courtesy of Katz Chiao; hat tip to Mocoloco]

About the author

Suzanne LaBarre is the editor of Co.Design. Previously, she was the online content director of Popular Science and has written for the New York Times, the New York Observer, Newsday, I.D.