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E'Terra Samara Resort

Tobermory, Ontario

The design concept for the E’terra Samara 5-star eco resort, located in the Bruce Peninsula, consists of twelve suspended, reimagined one-bedroom tree house villas nestled into a forest which is part of the UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve.

Consistent with the client’s philosophy of creating a restorative place in the forest that harmonizes with nature, the structure is designed to be suspended from the trees’ trunks, rather than following the common practice of nailing to the tree, thereby hugging the tree rather than piercing its flesh.

The design emerged from a desire to not only be “in the trees” but also “of the trees.” The dominant image is derived from the shape of a samara, commonly known as the maple key, a winged, fibrous, papery propeller shape that appears in autumn and enables the wind to carry maple tree seeds (which biologists refer to as the “fruit”) farther from the parent tree than regular seeds. The sleeping area of the tree house is located in the “fruit” section of the samara shape, with the socializing area located in the “wing” section.

Prefabricated off-site in three pieces, the structure will draw from East Coast light-weight wooden sailing boat construction techniques. Each samara villa frame will be hoisted into place and bolted together in the winter months with absolute minimal disturbance to the delicate flora. The locally harvested, Forest Stewardship Council-certified frames are suspended from a remarkably simple steel shoulder and cable system that hugs the tree trunk.

Seasonally, fabric bonnets are attached to the wooden frame and function like the leaves of a tree, providing shade and comfort while actively neutralizing airborne pollutants and odors. The bonnets are made out of PTFE fiberglass coated non-toxic and flame-resistant TiO2 (titanium dioxide) fabric. The self-cleaning benefits of TiO2 bonnets allow the material to break down dirt and other organic materials through a chemical reaction with the sun’s UV rays, oxygen and water vapor present in the air.

The twelve samara villas are each rotated and located on their respective tree trunk to take advantage of specific site features and light conditions while attaining complete privacy for the occupants.