Modern day buildings are generally static and stationary objects constructed on their sites using brick, stone, wood, or metal. These materials are revered for their solidity and longevity. But what if buildings could change, respond and grow within their environments? The idea of a living and growing building or structure has been around for a long time but has largely been forgotten in modern day building.
In the Khasi and Jaintia hills of India, living and growing structure has been around for centuries. These bridges are weaved together using the incredibly strong root systems of the Indian rubber tree. These bridges, which span over 100 feet, take ten to fifteen years to become functional and unlike stationary construction, these bridges actually become stronger and stronger everyday. One particular bridge in Cherrapunji is believed to be more than 500 years old!
Living and growing architecture can also be formed through a process called pleaching. This is a technique in which branches are weaved together to create a living wall. The branches of trees and plants in close contact begin to grow together to create a solid structure. This system has been experimented for ages in various geographical locations, creating outdoor rooms and living buildings that continue to grow and strengthen as they age.
More recently, students in Stuttgart, Germany have begun to work with the idea of growing buildings constructed from living trees. They see their architecture as a way to help combat climate change by reducing the amount of energy used to acquire, transport, and construct traditional buildings. These structures are grown from quick-growing trees like willows, which are also relatively to bend and form. These structures are not only strong, but self-repairing, ecologically friendly, and able to naturally absorb carbon dioxide.