Ross senior Livia Azevedo plans to study architectural design and structural engineering at college next year, and she is taking the opportunity to get a jump-start on that path with her Senior Project: an intricate tree house she is building in the backyard of her family home.
This past summer, Livia studied design and theory at Columbia University, and she drew on that knowledge in the planning phase for the tree house, which is located in a peaceful spot overlooking a pond. The setting inspired Livia to incorporate nature in her design.
The house is built around three trees, a factor that made for some interesting challenges during construction. Livia has never built a complete structure before, and she says she has learned from each step along the way. With help from her mentor, Visual Arts teacher Jon Mulhern, as well as from her father and a friend who is a carpenter, she slowly built the tree house following a unique design, tackling everything from laying the foundation to cutting the floorboards to designing the interior.
With the approaching winter and a busy college application process, Livia had to compromise on a few things in order to complete the project before the snow fell. She spent much of the time on the design of the roof, ultimately choosing an octagonal shape and a ceiling almost 12 feet tall. Although the shape made it harder to complete the roof, the effect is dramatic. “I’m happy with the outcome,” Livia says. “I think it has a nice flow with an interesting entrance and a deck off the back.”
Now that the tree house is complete, Livia enjoys spending time in her new home. She will add lighting over the next weekend and make a few other tweaks when she has time next summer.
As part of her presentation to the Ross community, Livia is constructing a model of the house and will display the floor plan and a photo journal at the Senior Project Exhibition on January 22. She will also set up visiting hours at the house, and invite people to tour the home.