Taking arbosculpture to the next level, German designer Ferdinand Ludwig is working to build not just sculptures but bridges and buildings from living trees. Many of his designs will take years or even decades to fully unfold.
His largest project yet in Nagold, Germany, was a multistory structure made up over over 100 trees slowly combined into a single organism, coaxed into place with a steel framework that will eventually be redundant. The lattice of interconnected tree trunks and branches ends up forming its own self-supporting truss system.
The support beams are labeled with the years in which they can be removed, allowing the structure to stand on its own by 2028. Like a conventional curtain wall on an ordinary architectural facade, this system could be used to wrap other buildings as well.
Even now, though, the slow-growing ‘building’ makes for a shady and cool space in the summer. Through each season, of course, it changes with the natural cycles of spring, summer, fall and winter.
A pioneer of what he calls ‘Baubotanik’ (think: Bauhaus using botanical techniques), Ludwig’s living plant constructions were inspired in part by native tribes that grow living bridges out of trees over time.