On September 20th, 2016 we learned about

German architect turns live trees into three-story towers

For a good treehouse, you need some lumber, maybe nails and probably a good rope ladder. For a multi-story, 30-foot-tall tree tower, you need to plan a differently, starting with growing the trees yourself. The project may take a bit longer than a summer to finish, but the results can be amazing, if a bit drafty thanks to walls made of leaves and branches.

Growing buildings from the ground up has been dubbed Baubotanik by the architect behind these structures, Dr. Ferdinand Ludwig. With inspiration from other forms of plant manipulation, ranging from tiny bonsai trees to human-scale, grown furniture, Ludwig was looking for a way to create a living building. He started with something a bit more simple, crafting an elevated footbridge out of willow trees. As an architectural exercise, the footbridge did need a degree of accessibility, which is why walking surfaces and some supports in Baubotanik buildings are made of metal woven into the trees as they grow.

From bridges to buildings

The ratio of live to manufactured materials has been growing though. Some metal piping that was central to earlier structures has been designed to function only as a temporary support in more recent iterations. Metal walkways remain a component, being “built” into the supporting trees through a process of shaping, grafting and even screwing components together, but they’re kept to a minimum. From the outside of Ludwig’s tree tower, for instance, metallic components are nearly invisible from the outside. The types of trees in use has evolved too, with quickly growing willows being replaced by more durable sycamores on later, larger projects.

The progress from the first footbridge to a three-story building has been impressive. While the most recent project, the Plane-Tree-Cube Nagold in Germany, has been open to the public, there’s still an experimental feel to the whole thing. The time, labor and lack of insulation involved in these building mean they probably won’t be replacing your office or grocery store any time soon, but they do serve as an interesting reminder of the world we’ve moved away from as we’ve demanded more and more control over our environments.

Source: Living Baubotanik tree tower rises in Germany by Lucy Wang, inhabitat

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