Living architecture

Report 013, living

Living materials in architecture; the structure is created as it grows.

The lockdown has reignited our love of nature. It will manifest in living architecture, building with living materials.

The lockdown has reignited our love of nature We can see its power, its beauty, its peace, and the opportunities that it can provide us. The opportunities are manifesting themselves in many ways.

The first I want to discuss is living architecture; living structures.

Architecture traditionally uses artificial materials, or “dead” materials, such as stone, or dead wood. But there is an opportunity to build with living materials.

How does this work? You design a structure, and use living materials to build it, so the structure is created as it grows. A great material for this is willow branches. If a branch is removed, it can be planted in the ground, and will continue to grow. They can be guided around a structure, creating a sunshade, or other functional or aesthetic form you have designed. And the structure itself will evolve over time, remaining interesting. Living architecture can also be used in conjunction with traditional building materials, e.g. allowing plants to work with existing structures, to bring more shade and interest to a building. The willow branch is a great material for this, but there are undoubtedly others – we will continue our research in this area, so watch this space!

The second opportunity is using plants as an element in a structure; living walls.