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.
Ice Stupa was invented by Sonam Wangchuk in Ladakh, India, and the project is undertaken by the NGO Students’ Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh. Ladakh is a cold desert and due to climate change, the region experiences hotter summers with increase in melts along with shift in the timing and precipitation of the melts. Subsequently, during the spring season water is more scarce which in turn impacts agriculture and food supplies.
Ice Stupa is a form of glacier grafting technique that creates artificial glaciers , used for storing winter water (which otherwise would go unused) in the form of conical shaped ice heaps.
In October 2013, Sonam Wangchuk created the first prototype of 6 metres (20 ft) Ice Stupa by freezing 150,000 l (40,000 US gal) in Leh without any shade from the sun. Water was piped from upstream using gravity. Electricity or machinery was not used for pumping water. The Ice Stupa did not melt fully till 18 May 2014, even when the temperature was above 20 °C (68 °F).
Living Light is a lamp which harvests its energy through the photosynthetic process of the plant. As the plant photosynthesizes, it releases organic compounds into a soil chamber below. The organic matter is broken down by bacteria fostered through a microbial fuel cell. When this happens, electrons are created and transported away from the soil. The electric current is passed along a wire and fed into a ring fitted with LEDs. These light up when a user touches the plant’s leaves.
Dutch designer Ermi van Oers and her team will start off with a small production in 2018. Plans are already in place with Rotterdam to illuminate a city park.
Crown shyness (also canopy disengagement) is a phenomenon observed in some tree species, in which the crowns of fully stocked trees do not touch each other, forming a canopy with channel-like gaps. The phenomenon is most prevalent among trees of the same species, but also occurs between trees of different species. There exist many hypotheses as to why crown shyness is an adaptive behavior, and the most prominent theory, is that the gaps prevent the proliferation of invasive insects.
TheUbari Lakes are a group of about 20 lakes, set amidst magnificent sand dunes and palm fringed oases in the Fezzan region of southwestern Libya. The lakes were once one big lake but climate change caused the region, a part of Sahara, to gradually dry up between 3,000 to 5,000 years ago. The water is super-saturated with salts and carbonates, as lakes are being continuously evaporated and have no rivers replenishing them.
These rare primate-esque flowers are formally known as Dracula simia. They only grow in the cloud forests of southeastern Ecuador and Peru at elevations of 1,000-2,000 meters on the side of mountains. In the scientific name, “simia” refers to the monkey face and “Dracula” refers to the two long spurs that hang down, almost like fangs.
Wildlife crossings are structures that allow animals to cross human-made barriers safely. They may include: underpass tunnels, viaducts, and overpasses (mainly for large or herd-type animals), fish ladders and green roofs (for butterflies and birds). Wildlife crossings are a practice in habitat conservation, allowing connections or re-connections between habitats, combating habitat fragmentation. They also assist in avoiding collisions between vehicles and animals, which in addition to killing or injuring wildlife may cause injury to humans and property damage.
Wildlife Overpass, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada. (Image source)
Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, China, is gifted with a diverse landscape. In Zhangjiajie, there are not only lofty mountains and steep hills but also low valleys and vast plains. The director James Cameron was deeply attracted by the breathtaking natural beauties in Zhangjiajie that some of the images taken in Zhangjiajie were used in the spectacular sci-fi film Avatar to feature the floating “Mt. Hallelujah” in the world of “Pandora”. About 3,000 sandstone monoliths – dagger-point rock spires that rebel against gravity – thrust from 76 percent of the 9,563-square-kilometer wilderness reserve, slicing the partitions of a natural labyrinth replete with hidden caves. Continue reading “China’s Floating Mountains”→