July 23rd 2009

Grow your own home

Ever heard of “plant addition”? You know, grafting together trees on trees? That’s what three German architects are doing: designs made completely out of living trees.

One of the architects, Ferdinand Ludwig, explains that the roots one-year-old willow trees edge sideways into containers of soil, but once the roots are cut off, the trees merge to a single organism.

Using plants and trees to grow in specific manners isn’t new to the world of art, but Ludwig, along with Oliver Storz and Hannes Schwertfeger, are taking it even further, emphasizing the trees to be substantial building material.

According to Philip Bethge at spiegel.de:

“The basic rule is this: All forces pass through the wood, from top to bottom,” Schwertfeger explains. And the trio has already built their first structures. For example on Lake Constance where a group of willows surround a metal walkway. And in the Bavarian Forest, trees form a “diagonal support frame” for a bird watching station. And now the pioneers are planning to build a “green room” in downtown Stuttgart. The project, dubbed “Satellite,” will consist of a 120-square-meter (1,290-square-foot) pavilion for exhibitions and concerts.

Risks are involved, allowing this career choice potentially unstable. There is what they call a  “risk of strangulation”, where metal fasteners obstruct the flow of sap. They also realize that the tree does have its own rules. “A tree doesn’t want to become a wall,” Ludwig explains.

But this is exactly what makes the eco-structure what it is.

Read the full story here.

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As a musicologist, writer, personal fitness trainer and food-enthusiast, Laurie just can't decide what she likes best - so she does them all. She is also the editor of Ecoki.com, an eco-lifestyle community bringing you all things green.