How to Grow Your Own Living House

July 23, 2009 by

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Three young German architects have created a new area of  architecture: arbo-architecture.

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Ferdinand Ludwig and fellow architects, Oliver Storz and Hannes Schwertfeger, call their new specialty “building botany.” As part of this, the three men are building structures made from plants as well as studying the elasticity of plane trees and examining how effectively willows can grow around steel pipes at the University of Stuttgart’s Institute of Basics in Modern Architectural Design.

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In this way, they plan to begin building an eight-meter (26-foot) tower near Lake Constance in southern Germany at the end of July.

“In our opinion trees are high-tech material, which is why plant growth is part of our vision,” says Schwertfeger. “We start them off but the tree itself continues the building process,” Ludwig adds. “In architectural terms it’s very risky — but it’s a positive risk.”

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Training trees to grow in all manner of decorative shapes is not new, it has been part of the skilled landscape gardener’s repertoire since the 13th century. And companies like the Israeli firm, Plantware, have perfected these techniques as they have shaped trees into fruit bowls, toilet paper holders and street lamps; they call their work “arborsculpture.”

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Now Stuttgart’s architectural rebels are taking the concept a step further. They consider the trees to be building materials similar to steel and concrete.

via Spiegel and Treehugger

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  • Prodnose

    A wonderful idea!

    But it’s going to be even slower than ORDINARY builders. And that’s slow!

  • Marc

    Now all Germany needs to do is perfect a tank-resistant version Russian tanks cannot bust through.

  • jeff

    im so baked.

  • oberst

    This is a fabulous idea. My only worry would be, what if a couple of the trees die? It’s one thing if they’re being used for landscaping, but if they structural integrity of your home depends on the livelihood and health of some trees, it might be a little too risky.

  • http://popblogculture.blogspot.com/ dj41326

    Yeah I think my concern would be for the trees health. or a gusting wind. What then. http://popblogculture.blogspot.com/

  • DZRTJUL

    Oh, but it is so very cool!

  • http://http salih

    I hven’t any word,it is all O.K

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    Excellent idea! The elasticity can be very usefull in certain situations, certainly if it is combined with other materials.
    The harder a material is, the better or faster it will break or burst under the right circumstances. Absolutely to be tested more.
    Very inspiring idea indeed! Thumbs up for these architects!

  • willy

    Bad idea. Reason 1. Google codit and learn about wound closure. Trees are dynamic systems undergoing a metabolic process. Sticking a steel rod through a tree is never a good idea (pic2). The bark of trees is like our skin. When its constantly rubbing against an object such as another tree ( pic 1) then that skin is open and its a vector for plant pathogens and infection.
    Reason2. Plants have different growth rates. Even members of the same species that are the same sex may grow faster than one another. My brother is 5ft 9. Im 6 ft. Were not just speaking of height, were also talking about limb diameter. When you build a structure that structure needs to be stable. If what your building with is constantly changing then that stability isnt there.
    I could go on.. but you get the idea

  • Im sad now

    Thanks alot Willy.Your a killjoy.

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  • smuj

    No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!

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  • Aragorn

    What a great concept. Many of you have drawn attention to the flaws in the idea, but it’s not intended as a replacement for our current buildings. It’s a concept, one that’s being carried out for the fun and adventure. Relax.

    We all know this would only be truly practical for elves and other patient creatures with very long life spans.

  • anthony

    Thank you willy.
    You gave some reasons why it can’t be done. Some people however don’t look at the can’ts and do it anyway.

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    WOW!

  • D.O.

    “a new area of architecture: arbo-architecture”?????
    C’mon. Someone has come up with a variation of this every few years for decades (probably millennia, but decades that I remember). Usually the ideas are better than this. Willow? Seriously? And steel rods through it? Right. I’ve always been intrigued by living architecture, but this one is just stoooopid.

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    Like the idea or not, you can see from the volume of comments, this one certainly provokes dialogue!

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    Cool idea. Nature has all the solutions.

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