The Treehouse in the Desert


Every year I hear from my friends about this weekend-long event called Coachella.  It’s this crazy music festival out in the desert (Indio, Ca, to be exact) with a bunch of famous bands, but the thing I remember being most envious about were the sculptures that they described seeing.  Sculptures so high that you had to crane your neck to see them.  Some that lit up, some that you could swing around in, and some that you could trust to spray you with water in the 100 degree plus heat.

It sounded… fascinating.

And then, last night, while we were talking about our plans for this year, they mentioned a tree house – this one Steampunk Tree House, to be exact.

Photo by Zachary Wasserman

It is completely… amazing.  Unluckily, you could not climb up into it (although my friends really wanted to…).

However, there were some amazing special effects attached to the project that made standing on the ground just as enjoyable.


>STEAM EFFECTS: The tree will be plumbed with steam using 1″ schedule 40 pipe.  The steam lines will run throughout the tree and branches to establish the steam effects at night (see Steam Plumbing Schematic)…

>Solar panels on the roof
>Storage batteries hidden in the house
>LED (firefly) lights in the branches, multiple colors
>LED (mood) lighting in the house
>LED floodlighting to illuminate the tree at night
>Back-up generator and charging system

Sound Element:
>Certain pipes throughout the tree will be a part of an open network that will allow people to speak with other people who are in different sections of the Tree. Small steel “megaphones” will be attached to the Tree for communication. The pipes will also pick up the wind on windy days. The Tree may be equipped with a few aluminum organ pipes that will make unusual sounds as the steam is piped through.

The Kinetic Steamworks team of artists used MIG welding and plate steel to create much of the tree’s original structure.  For their full list of materials, click here.

And now, even though I’ve looked at this photo over and over while drafting this post, I am still amazed.  This year, I will be fortunate enough to finally attend a day of Coachella-ness and I’m excited to see what they, and the many other artists have come up with this year.  I can’t hardly wait.


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