A community project space dedicated to arboreal futures

The Lightning House is a semi-permanent structure located in The Farm at Awbury. Created in the Spring and Summer of 2023 out of a former stone carriage house, the space serves as a collective woodworking, performance and gathering space.

Here, on an annual basis S(tree)twork transforms trees that have fallen in the arboretum and sculpts them into percussion instruments that are played by the S(tree)twork Drum Corp in tree planting events across the city organized by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) Tree Tenders program. Over time, S(tree)twork has been gradually adding to a suite of instruments played by the growing S(tree)twork drum corp to “summon the future forest” of Philadelphia.

The Lightning House will also host the S(tree)twork Sensory Sessions series and other community events organized by, PHS, and Awbury Arboretum.

The design for the Lightning House evolved out of two years of wandering and listening that culminated in the S(tree)twork Form and Function community design workshop convened in April 2022. Futurefarmers’ lead architect Lode Vranken’s visionary design centers around the life cycle of trees. Its interior space anticipates the need for woodworking while its accessible roof will serve as a community assembly space under the trees.

A 126-year-old hemlock that had fallen in the Arboretum serves as the central support beam for the Lighting House as well as benches.


Please note that Awbury Arboretum has two main sections divided by Washington Lane. The S(tree)twork structure will be built on the ruin of a former barn located in the Farm at Awbury portion. The site is located near Washington Lane. If you are arriving via car, the best location for parking is on Ardleigh Street.