Treehouses at Kew Design Competition
About the Competition
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is a world-leading plant science institute and UNESCO World Heritage Site and are pleased to be partnering with the Museum of Architecture to create this inspiring project. Treehouses at Kew will be Kew’s main exhibition running from April to October 2023 and provide one of the most enticing and unmissable visitor experiences in the 2023 London cultural calendar.
This impressive project will include seven Treehouses, a gallery exhibition, and an accompanying visitor programme.
RBG Kew and the Museum of Architecture invite you to design a spectacular treehouse as part of this programme for one of three selected trees in the Gardens’ 320-acre site. Each treehouse should respond to one of the accompanying themes:
• Treehouse 1: Celebrating play
• Treehouse 2: Highlighting nature’s architecture and biomimicry
• Treehouse 3: Showcasing pioneering sustainable materials and innovative design
The exhibition will communicate the value of good design and the role architects can play in addressing some of the most pressing problems we face today – how can we use materials sustainably, how can we respond to the climate crisis and how can we build for the needs of people and the planet.
Each treehouses design should be accessible to all our visitors (see Accessibility appendix). Designs should champion Kew’s beautiful and important trees, and be inspired and informed by Kew’s vital scientific research into plants and fungi. With an informal, playful approach we will allow our narratives to be told in an understandable yet compelling way.
We support inclusivity and diversity within the selection process and encourage responses that draw on unique cultural perspectives to tell stories that connect with our visitors from more diverse backgrounds. We are bringing together a juried panel of experts who will choose three competition winners, and in the Summer of 2023, visitors will be able to experience the landscape from a completely new vantage point – your treehouse.
This is an exciting opportunity to use creative and architectural thinking to design in and around Kew’s living collection and produce inventive, accessible, and innovative designs. This very special project needs exceptional teams to design it. The competition is open to UK-based and international architectural practices, and we welcome submissions from collaborative groups.
The chosen Treehouses should incorporate the following within the design:
• Be architecturally interesting and playfully appealing (Kew Gardens is a visitor attraction)
• Demonstrate boldness
• A focus on sustainable practice, materials and design
• Engaging and accessible for people with diverse access needs (physical, sensory, cognitive)
• Alignment to key themes – See Section 5 for details
• Be informed or inspired by RBG Kew’s pioneering scientific work into plants and fungi
• Have a legacy life after Kew Gardens and be able to be re-assembled elsewhere
• With teams made up of practitioners from diverse backgrounds
The successful winning entrants will be required to work with RBG Kew and Museum of Architecture to realise the Treehouse onsite as well as to provide information for project components such as the gallery exhibition, programming, publications, marketing and press and commercial activities associated with the project.
The competition is open to all registered architects both in the UK and internationally as well as collaborations. You can submit for one, two, or all three of the treehouse themes. You can be part of multiple teams. Separate complete submissions are required for each treehouse. Non-architects can be part of a team as long as the lead team member is a registered architect.
Stage 1 Competition Launch: Wed 5 January 2022
Self-directed site visits to Kew: Wed 5 January to Sun 6 February
Free site visit day (sign-up required by 14 January: info on museumofarchitecture.org): Mon 17 January
Stage 1 Expressions of Interest submissions deadline: Mon 7 February 2022 at 12 noon GMT
Shortlisted architects will be notified: w/c 14 February 2022
Feedback provided to all non- shortlisted entrants: March 2022
Group Site Visit: Week of the 21st of February
Stage 2 Submissions deadline: Mon 14 March 2022 by 12.00 noon
Presentations to the jury: Tues 22 March 2022 (online or in-person)
Winners Announced : Week of 28 March 2022
Project Development: March – June 2022
Planning Submitted for Review: July 2022 – September 2022
Fabrication: October 2022 – February 2023
Installation: January-March 2023
Open to Public: April 2023
More information and documents at