Organic Architecture Grown From Living Trees

Architecture made out of living trees  requires not only using nature as it is but also shaping it to the required form. The first examples of using trees to create living structures are bridges across Asia.

Tree Cathedral Bergamo, Italy
The Cattedrale Vegetale uses trees and branches to create a cathedral-like structure. The frame was completed in 2010 as part of the United Nations’ International Year of Biodiversity, but beech trees take decades to fully mature.

Pava [CC BY-SA 3.0 it], from Wikimedia Commons

Photo: Alessandro/CC BY 2.0

Willow Palace Auerstedt, Germany
A living willow structure constructed in 1998 by architect Marcel Kalberer and his group Sanfte Strukturen, weaving live saplings together to form a domed cathedral space.

Photo: Pfauenauge/CC BY 2.0

The Green Cathedral Almere, The Netherlands
An artistic planting of Lombardy poplars that mimics the size and shape of the Cathedral of Notre-Dame, Reims, France.

RogAir [CC BY-SA 3.0], from Wikimedia Commons

The Chapel Oak Allouville-Bellefosse, France
When the oak tree was nearing 500 years of age, it was struck by lightning. The resulting fire burned slowly through the center and hollowed the tree out. The local Abbot Du Detroit and the village priest, claimed that the lighting striking and hollowing the tree was an event that had happened with holy purpose. So they built a place of pilgrimage devoted to the Virgin Mary in the hollow. In later years, the chapel above was added, as was the staircase.

Ji-Elle [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

Circus Tree at Gilroy Gardens, California
The Basket Tree is the Park’s centerpiece and one of the most intricate of the Circus Trees. It was created from 6 American Sycamores.

Photo: Martin Lewison/CC BY-SA 2.0

The Chair That Grew
John Krubsack, a banker and farmer from Embarrass, Wisconsin, conceived, planted and shaped the first known living chair. He started in 1903 and harvested it 11 years later in 1914 dubbed the chair that grew.

Public domain

The Root Bridges of Cherrapunji, India
Over hundreds of years the people in Cherrapunji have developed techniques for growing roots of trees into bridges.

Photo: Ashwin Kumar/CC BY-SA 2.0

Arshiya Urveeja Bose [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons



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