New Zealander Barry Cox wanted to be the Pope when he grew up. He didn’t pursue that, but his love for churches, and their architecture, remained undeterred. He studied churches across America and Europe to fuel his passion. Back home, he started Treelocations, a tree moving business.
With this business, he can provide to move whole trees and plant them at a new location. For any trees that don’t have a new home; they went to his own land. With a 90ha land adorned with 4000 trees, one fine day in the year 2011, Cox realized: “That space needs a church!”
Cox built an iron frame, a mimesis of the churches he oft visited and decided to top the construction of with – guess what – trees! They call it the Tree Church.
The church walls are a series of Australian tea tree varietal with lush foliage, trimmed every six weeks to a perfect shape. A deciduous tree and flexible, the cut-leaf alder fashions the roof of the church, along the iron frame. Its thin foliage allows the sun to peek inside, creating a view that beholds nature’s beauty. The entrance is a labyrinth inspired by the ancient city of Jericho. To balance it, Cox plans on building a European garden at the back of the church, and an amphitheater for outdoor events.
Cox transported the pews and a marble altar from his family church in Shannon for the marvel, reminiscing his boyhood dream. A rambling rose grows atop and around the church, with its perfume filling the crisp summer air.
Cox opened the Tree Church to public January this year; his nephew married on the church’s altar and now a number of couples seek to follow in his footstep. Some of them are not religious, but the church isn’t just a sign of ardent religiosity, “We are not religious at all, but felt that the Tree Church gave our wedding a sense of venerability in a natural, relaxed, and non-denominational way,” a bride explained.