By Kimberley Mok / Source: TreeHugger


Builders of treehouses will know that one major consideration during construction is how to support the structure without harming the tree. There are specially developed fasteners and bolts for the task, but there may be ways to hold things up without drilling even a single hole. That’s the idea behind CanopyStair, a modular staircase that wraps around a tree’s trunk, without damaging it.


Designed by Royal College of Art graduates Thor ter Kulve (previously) and Robert McIntyre, the CanopyStair features curved, birch plywood treads that are progressively attached around the tree trunk with ratchet straps, so that the stairs can spiral up into the leafy canopy.




Rubberized treads, and a railing made out of ash wood poles and black plastic tubing provide an extra bit of safety, while the ratchet strap system allows for instant customization to fit any tree, explains ter Kulve on Dezeen:

Since tree trunks are all unique we had to design a system that would adapt to their uneven surfaces, whilst not harming the tree in any way.


The duo were inspired to create this after time spent climbing a tree in the Azores island. For them, trees are a passport up into an unexplored world with a lot of potential, says McIntyre:

The canopies of trees are the least explored ecosystem on the planet – we know less about them than we do the deep ocean. On climbing the CanopyStair, one enters this secret world, and it is somehow mesmerizing.


The designers consulted with local arboriculturalists to ensure that their design — which uses sand-cast aluminum joints cushioned with neoprene pads to rest against the tree — won’t adversely affect the trunk. There are elements of aeronautical design in the CanopyStair as well, and they estimate that to set up a stair measuring seven metres (22.9 feet) high, it would take around three hours with two people, but disassembly would take only half an hour. No tools are needed.

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