Members of the Research Group Baubotanik at the Institute of Theory of Modern Architecture and Design (University of Stuttgart) have been focusing on the idea of living plant constructions - that's right, towers made from trees.
Recently their first “baubotanical” tower made of living trees was completed - though it isn't quite mature yet. Their prototype 'building' is located in the south of Germany and is nearly 9 meters high with a base area of approximately 8 square meters.
It's basically the Keep On The Borderlands, except green.
Living plant constructions may be just a boutique idea but the science is interesting. Trees provide a healthy microclimate in cities and we like their appearance – but normally it takes decades until a tree is fully developed.
The aim of baubotanical research is to design and to build living plant constructions as architectural bearing structures in the dimension of fully grown trees, creating in faster time green spaces that combine the aesthetic and ecologic qualities of trees, with architectural usage and functionality.
Basically the tower consists of a framework-like structure made of several hundred young plants (White Willow/salix alba) only two meters high. Only the plants at ground level are planted in the soil, the others are rooted in plant containers and plugged into a temporary steel scaffolding. It's old time grafting made new again.
Over time, when the plants have joined and those at the bottom have developed a sufficient root system in the ground, the plant containers will be removed.
When the living structure is solid enough to carry the load of the three zinc-coated steel platforms and the working load, the scaffolding will be removed. Photo: University of Stuttgart