Focus on good design and clever construction by Laurie Elden

Tucked away in the mountains of northern Vermont, a cross between a tree house and a deck moves in the breeze in concert with the trees it's cabled to. The staircase, visible behind the main structure in the photo below, rises to a stationary platform that's anchored by four cedar 6x6s bolted to a 4-inch-diameter steel pipe — which is embedded 30 inches in a 4-foot-deep concrete footing. A gangplank ramps up from the fixed landing to the tree house; neoprene rollers on one end and a steel pin in a slotted steel plate on the tree-house end accommodate motion. The main structure balances on a pivot comprising two capped steel pipes, the gap between which determines how much the tree house can sway. — Laurie Elden