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.