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Baubotanik: The Latest Architecture and News

Baubotanik: The Botanically Inspired Design System that Creates Living Buildings

09:30 - 23 October, 2015
Baubotanik: The Botanically Inspired Design System that Creates Living Buildings, Willow footbridge summer 2012. Image © Ferdinand Ludwig
Willow footbridge summer 2012. Image © Ferdinand Ludwig

Timber buildings are regularly praised for their sustainability, as carbon dioxide removed from the atmosphere by the trees remains locked in the structure of the building. But what if you could go one better, to design buildings that not only lock in carbon, but actively absorb carbon dioxide to strengthen their structure? In this article, originally published by the International Federation of Landscape Architects as "Baubotanik: Botanically Inspired Biodesign," Ansel Oommen explores the theory and techniques of Baubotanik, a system of building with live trees that attempts to do just that.

Trees are the tall, quiet guardians of our human narrative. They spend their entire lives breathing for the planet, supporting vast ecosystems, all while providing key services in the form of food, shelter, and medicine. Their resilient boughs lift both the sky and our spirits. Their moss-aged grandeur stands testament to the shifting times, so much so, that to imagine a world without trees is to imagine a world without life.

To move forward then, mankind must not only coexist with nature, but also be its active benefactor. In Germany, this alliance is found through Baubotanik, or Living Plant Constructions. Coined by architect, Dr. Ferdinand Ludwig, the practice was inspired by the ancient art of tree shaping.

Willow tower after completion. Image © Ferdinand Ludwig Connection detail 2012. Image © Ferdinand Ludwig Test field with inosculations. Image © foto chira moro Plane cube: view from south-west directly after completion. Image © Ludwig.Schönle + 8