Trees are the most fundamental shelters for humans and fauna alike. Vitruvius said it; Marc-Antoine Laugier drew it: Trunks equal supporting columns, the crown of leaves is the roof. Most architects have paid homage to the tree by imitating their structure, often even in stone. But why not skip a step and simplify things by actually using the trees themselves as the building?

Tree-shaping is by no means a new thing, and humans have been controlling the way plants grow for a significant chunk of horticultural history. Although influencing the direction and shape of growth has often been used for aesthetic purposes, like that seen in bonsai or topiary, there are significant practical advantages to the form, too. In comparison to constructs made of lumber, “arbotecture” is not only more resistant to decay; it is also more structurally-sound—after all, joints eventually disappear as tree branches fuse together.

Ultimately though, this is the perfect excuse to reenact your favorite fantasy novel. Check out these awesome examples:


Photo via joernwryanbolosteros. Images via Sanfte Strukturen.

Auerworld Palace by Sanfte Strukturen

The Sanfte Strukturen project started in 1985 and has since completed 60 willow structures based on the techniques of sumerian-reed constructions in Mesopotamia. This form of tree-shaping becomes a beautiful marker of time, as the shelter changes with the years and seasons.


Baubotanik structures by Ferdinand Ludwig

Baubotanik buildings contain structural framing on the interior and the facade is replaced by trees that will provide shelter as they increase in density. “Living and non-living machine elements are joined in a way to make them ‘intergrow’ to a vegetable-technical compound structure,” says the artist.


Fab Tree Hab by Terreform One

This building concept has been formed as an alternative to current solutions at Habitat for Humanity. The bio-design-obsessed firm proposes to graft native trees onto CNC-ed scaffolding in order to provide housing that is integral to the local ecological community.


Continue reading on Architizer!

Top image: Double-decker bridge in Meghalaya, India

Article by Alex Garkavenko