Malleable Trees: The Future of Eco-Architecture

By: Molly Rovero, LuxEco Editorial Assistant

LuxEco previously explored the idea of growing your own home with Mitchell Joachim’s “Don’t build your home, grow it!”, in the article “Money Might Not Grow on Trees, but Your Housing Could!,” as an eco-friendly housing solution. The potential for tree utilization goes beyond use in single family homes with communities in need of many other structures. Yoav Waisel and Amram Eshel of Tel Aviv University are researching the practicality of shaping trees, called arbosculpture or living art, into civic structures. As pilot projects, park benches, gates, playgrounds, and even street lamps will be grown out of trees in Israel, Australia, and the U.S.

Aeroponics is the science behind growing these trees. The concept of this is to use air to grown them instead of the traditional soil and water approach. Physorg quotes professor Eshel as saying, “The approach is a new application of the well-known botanical phenomenon of ariel root development. Instead of using plant branches, this patented approach takes malleable roots and shapes them into useful objects for indoors and out.” Some species grown in this fashion do not harden, which allows for malleability, structures can then be sculpted out of these soft living trees.

Due to the lengthy amount of time in which it takes these trees to reach a sculptural age, it will be a while before these plans are put into action. Plantware, Waisel and Eshels collaborator, estimates it will be ten years before the first tree house prototype will be complete. This eco-architecture will truly be worth the wait since the results are long lasting. Though it may take a while before full size structures start popping up across the globe, keep an eye out in your local park for benches and lamp posts, there just might be a tree you don’t recognize.

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