21 Ultimate Gifts 2013: Branching Out
A 20,000-square-foot tree house with zip lines, a pool, a lazy river, a helipad, a water-operated elevator, and more.
Starting at $62 million
Having fun is serious business for Sergio Rosella. Two years ago, the 51-year-old builder cofounded a company called the Master Wishmakers to create everything from elaborate playhouses to custom furniture. “Everything we do is about fun,” Rosella says. “It is always bespoke, and we just let our imaginations run wild.”
The British firm’s wild streak took an extravagant turn last year with the launch of its Limitless service, which, as the name implies, aims to produce virtually anything a client can dream up. The first Limitless commission resulted in the creation of a 76,700-square-foot pirate-themed island on a lake in the British countryside. The man-made island, which was completed earlier this year, includes waterfalls, a lagoon, replicas of skeleton bones, a hedge maze, an 18th-century guesthouse, a boat dock, and a functioning pub. “Whatever the client desires and wishes, we will do,” Rosella says. “And if they need help with ideas, we are only too willing to oblige.”
Rosella’s idea for this year’s Ultimate Gift Guide is to create what would undoubtedly be the largest and most elaborate tree house on the planet. He and his team envision an elevated 20,000-square-foot backyard clubhouse that would offer everything from a swimming pool and a spa to a home theater and a helipad.
The proposed design entails five separate pods connected to a central trunk. The trunk will be crafted from load-bearing steel and covered in sustainable hardwood planks that will be lightly airbrushed to ensure they blend into the surroundings. Enclosed glass walkways will connect each of the pods, which could house such amenities as a gym, a spa, napping quarters with hammocks and tree-themed bunk beds, a vivarium with amphibians and reptiles, a greenhouse with rare species of plants, and an interactive library with sliding bookshelves that can be ridden around the room like a carousel (a feature that Master Wishmakers incorporated into a previous project).
The tree house’s glass walkways will reflect the surrounding foliage, while the pod roofs will feature gardens to help blend the structure into the environment. In addition to the walkways, a system of zip lines will link the pod roofs to exterior platforms that include such outdoor amenities as a jungle gym with various climbing structures and slides.
The hollow central trunk of the tree house will contain six stories that could hold spaces including a home theater, a dance hall, a painting studio, a snack kitchen, and a playroom with giant board games built into the floor and a storage space for costumes and dress-up clothes. On the top of the tree house—located some 74 feet above the ground—a glass-bottom swimming pool will lead to a lazy river that extends out from the central trunk. A separate lower platform, accessed via a walkway from the trunk’s fifth floor, will include a helipad. To reach the individual stories of the tree house, a glass-walled elevator will be powered by pressurized water that fills up and drains from a glass-tubed elevator shaft.
Though Rosella’s vision for the gift does not involve a living tree, he sees the project taking shape in a heavily wooded environment where the central structure would be virtually indistinguishable from its surroundings. Ideally, the recipient of this gift already owns a large woodland space in which to build the tree house, but it is not necessary. “If someone lives in the desert, we could easily import the trees,” Rosella says. “This is completely buildable in any given scenario.”
The tree house will require at least 14 months to design and build. The gift recipient must supply the land.