Microsoft has a penchant for building whimsical offices with nods to childhood nostalgia. Just take their Vienna headquarters, for example: it features bright colors and an indoor slide. Now the Seattle-area-based software giant has taken things one step further by constructing a fully functional treehouse on its five hundred acre Redmond, Washington campus.
Let’s get one thing straight though, this treehouse is far from the structure seven year-old you helped build in your backyard. Microsoft’s treehouses have wifi, multiple meeting rooms, hand-carved key-card sensitive doors, an outdoor gas fireplace, and a whole lot more.
So why exactly is Microsoft building treehouses? So that their employees can connect with the environment (they are living in the Pacific Northwest, after all). It’s part of an effort to foster wellness among their employees. The company wants employees to experience their lush natural surroundings — even when they’re hard at work on the next Windows update. The principle behind the project is the idea that experiencing nature helps individuals stay creative and focused. These outdoor spaces are part of Microsoft’s “larger new system of technology-enabled outdoor districts connected to buildings around campus and empowering employees to work in new ways,” according to a blog post on the Microsoft website.
These high-tech versions are designed by Pete Nelson of the Animal Planet television show Treehouse Masters. Situated 12 feet up in the air and accessible by a planked switchback ramp, the structures have been built to last for at least twenty years, and are able to flex and expand as the trees grow. Two of the three proposed treehouses are currently open.