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In this paper we propose a new approach to designing a large scale wireless sensor network (WSN) with a cluster-tree topology. Sensors in each cluster communicate directly with their associated cluster head (CH) through contention-based transmissions, and communications between CHs use contention free transmissions. The objective is to balance the energy consumptions of all the CHs, while providing satisfactory throughput. Given the network coverage and throughput requirement, we find the total number of levels of the cluster tree, number and coverage area of the clusters in each level, and amounts of time for contention-based and contention free transmissions at each CH. Our results show some interesting observations about traffic load distribution among the clusters and the CH timeline allocations.