Life on Campus / Winter 2003
A House on Higher Ground

Tree house competition challenges architecture students to think creatively


The challenge: design a tree house worthy of both a child’s imagination and an architect’s discerning eye. The winner: master’s of architecture candidate Lukasz Kos, for the tree house he designed for Gerald Sheff and Shanitha Kachan at their cottage in Walker’s Point, in Ontario’s Muskoka Lakes region.

Sheff, chief executive officer of the Toronto investment management firm Gluskin Sheff + Associates Inc., and an architect by training, conceived of the competition as a way of challenging architecture students to think creatively. He pitched the idea to Larry Richards, dean of the Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design. Sheff says he wanted something innovative for his children and grandchildren, but admits he has also benefited from the tree house – “I do sleep in it from time to time.”

Competition rules stipulated that the tree house had to be a maximum of 150 square feet, and that it must be close enough to the cottage to be safe for young visitors, but far enough away to give them a sense of autonomy. Kos’s design won by unanimous choice.


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