Here's a term you can drop into your next casual conversation about progressive German architectural movements: Baubotanik -- or "living plant construction" -- refers to a kind of slow-motion structural engineering approach that incorporates living trees and plants.
Like traditional topiary projects, or Japanese art of bonsai, Baubotanik involves tree shaping to a degree. But it goes much further than that. The idea is to assemble buildings and other structures using both living and nonliving materials, creating an entirely new kind of architecture.
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According to this very cool report over at Inhabitat, Baubotanik is the brainchild of architect baubotanik.org/en/contact/">Ferdinand Ludwig, who operates out of the University of Stuttgart in Germany. His Baubotanik website, cleverly registered as baubotanik.org, features several structures currently in development.
By way of carefully designed scaffolding schematics, Baubotanik buildings allow living trees to grow around and bond to man-made construction materials. As you might expect, it's a slow process. But gradually a new kind of living structure emerges in which trees serve as load-bearing elements while simultaneously locking in carbon, producing oxygen and providing shade.
The project is reminiscent of Mitch Joachim's Fab Tree Hab and reminds us of Gavin Munro's patiently cultivated Full Grown chairs.
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Over the last decade, Ludwig and his collaborators have constructed three major works that utilize the Baubotanik principles. In 2005, Ludwig began work on a footbridge made from willow trees and metal scaffolding. The willows have since grown up and over the stainless steel support tubes.