Austrian architecture studio Precht has unveiled Bert, a conceptual modular cabin shaped like a tree trunk, with large round windows designed to make it look like the single-eyed character from the film Minions. Bert is designed to sit on a circular base, with tube-shaped modular cells containing living space, bedrooms and bathrooms that can be stacked over and around it like the limbs of a tree branching out from the trunk.

The treehouse is made from wood, with leaf-like shingles to help it blend in with a forest environment. If there is not enough wood available, the architects suggested steel could be used instead of timber for the main structure. If used for an off-grid retreat, solar panels are installed on the roof and composting toilets added at ground level. The treehouse indoor is sober and cozy. Large round windows and balconies are like the eyes of a cartoon character that would frame the views of the landscape.

Precht started the design process by imagining a child’s drawing of a treehouse. “As architects, no matter if young or old, we have an inner child that looks at the world with playfulness and curiosity,” said co-founder Fei Tang Precht. “That same curiosity gave birth to Bert.” The cabins are designed to be prefabricated off-site in a factory and then assembled on-site. The modules can be used as small, stand-alone houses, as extensions of existing houses or transformed into residential communities.

In addition to off-grid retreat, the architects suggested that the Bert system could be used for hotels or multi-family dwellings in urban areas.

“We are fully aware that architecture is this serious and profound craft with a long culture and tradition. You see that when we architects find reference for our projects in art, philosophy, literature or nature,” said Precht co-founder Chris Precht. “For this project, we rather were rather inspired by cartoon characters of Sesame Street or Minions.” A new source of inspiration for architects?

Photo and architect credit: Precht