Installation – “Nest”

NEST establishes a framework for open ended discovery and exploration within the planned Children’s Garden area. Our proposal supports the “Elements of Nature” theme planned for the new Children’s Garden by creating spaces with physical and experential aspects inspired by the natural environment & geography of East Tennessee.

The program brief asks for proposals to respond with an accessible solution within a limited budget. NEST creates opportunity from these constraints and provides a direct response to the challenge offered in the brief. Working within the given parameters, NEST is composed of three clearly defined components: LANDSCAPE, WALL, and SHELTER. This restrained kit of parts limits the complexity of the construction process and work together to minimize the impact of the treehouse and accessible ramp to the children’s garden site. The organization of these components allows for different spaces of discovery to be defined within the garden. This organization will allow other planned components such as a digging pit, interactive sundial, and water feature to be seamlessly integrated into the children’s garden area.

NEST provides a variety of spaces by overlapping and layering the landscape, wall, and shelter components. The WALL consists of a single row of 4×4 cypress posts which weave through the children’s Garden landscape. This wall serves to retain a new LANDSCAPE, a planted berm which serves as the structure for an accessible ramp. The wall also serves as the primary structural component for a new SHELTER which cantilevers 5 feet out above the children’s Garden landscape. The types of open spaces created by this approach range from open FIELD to protected RIDGE; enclosed spaces range from a sunken DEN to an elevated NEST. How these spaces are used is open to interpretation, limited only by the child’s imagination.


University of Tennessee Botanical Gardens

Project Team:

Brandon F. Pace AIA LEED AP
Michael A. Davis LEED AP
Lauren Mullane
Cameron Bolin


UT Gardens Treehouse Competition, First Place [2013]
AIA East Tennessee Award of Merit  [2017]