grow your own architecture
grow your own architecture grow your own architecture
jul 23, 2009
grow your own architecture

a conventional support structure is built for the trees to grow around, and after a few years, it can be removed and the
‘arbo-architecture’ can support itself
image courtesy of development society for botany building and der spiegel

three young german architects, oliver storz, ferdinand ludwig and hannes schwertfeger,
are designing structures made from living trees.

ludwig is grafting trees together – trunk to top, top to trunk – by seven young willow trees,
with a scaffold used to support the tree tower. restricting the way in which the trees grow,
allows the roots of the trees to protrude sideways and into containers of soil. as the trees reach
a certain point, the roots are cut off, which allows them to merge into a single organism.
to construct this type of architecture, he uses one-year-old willows that are a minimum of 10 meters
(33 feet) long and those that are are thin and flexible. when they have matured to full strength,
the trees will be able to support an 8 meter (26 foot) tower that he plans to build in south germany
at the end of this month.

with his colleagues, storz and schwertfeger, they have called their specialty ‘botany building’.
each of them have built structures built from plants, studying the elasticity of trees and researching
how effectively willows can grow around steel pipes. they feel that trees are building materials
equivalent to steel and concrete.

the beginning of any ‘arbo-architecture’ project requires the architects to build a conventional
support structure. once this is done, young, flexible trees are attached to the structure and over
the course of time the branches and trunks are manipulated into desired shape. as they grow,
they begin taking on more of a load-bearing function. after they have been harvested this way
for a few years, the support structure can be removed and the architecture of the trees can
stabilize themselves, and the potential for roofs and floors can be installed.

a conventional support is built so that flexible trees can be attached and manipulated into desired form
image courtesy of development society for botany building and der spiegel

over a few years, the trees take on more of a load-bearing function and able to support more weight
image courtesy of development society for botany building and der spiegel

metal fasteners stop sap from flowing
image courtesy of development society for botany building and der spiegel

in order to build architecture in this way, the trees need to be closely monitored and maintained
image courtesy of development society for botany building and der spiegel

a small version of this type of growing architecture
image courtesy of development society for botany building and der spiegel

image courtesy of ferdinand ludwig and der spiegel

currently, the group is working on constructing a tree tower
image courtesy of development society for botany building and der spiegel

designboom is currently hosting the ‘green life’ competition. the incheon metropolitan city,
korea is giving a major award for environmentally-friendly concepts, products and household items,
all using alternative energy and/or made of organic or recycled materials. accepted are also ideas for
street furniture, architecture and interior design, lighting devices, and effective ‘green communication’
projects, such as promotional materials / advertisement. this is really a RICH contest as designboom
will be able to distribute a total amount of USD 41,000.

source der spiegel

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