Sunday, January 21, 2007

Grow Your Own Home

Last month, I considered the possibilities of growing your own home. I cast my lot with the potential for biological engineering to make it happen. Either that, or develop really large gourds. Well, it was too sound an idea to be original to me. Even the hope of residential gourds is shared by others, who urge, "Think big if you want. We'd love to build a shelter out of gourds some day!" When it comes to growing your own home, some great minds are already on the case and have been for a long time.
The German landscape architect, Rudolf Doernach, has been practicing "biotecture" or "agritecture" for decades. Using the ancient technique of pleaching and other techniques, Doernach planted trees and trained their branches to form structures that continued to grow on their own. In 1989, he reported, "Very economic vegetal houses, plant villages, and plant cities have been developed for single and multi-story growth. They are living solar collectors and complete biotectonic systems." He details his methods in the article, "Biotecture I - Living Houses."
Mitchell Joachim and Javier Arbona have grown the concept with Fab Tree Hab. The photos in this post and more information on their work can be found at CafĂ© Arcane’s "Grow Your Own Treehouse" and at this site from WorldChanging, which shares the encouraging assessment: "Permaculture is about inclusion, accessibility, and mutual service between humans and the natural world. With proper knowledge, you should be able to grow your own house!"
Carrying on that concept:
"Other ecological designers exploring the self-growing treehouse include Richard Reames and Konstantin Kirsch of the Treedome project, who’ve designed latticeworks of tree branches and grown them into cylindrical, multi-room dwellings which become fully-enclosed botanical domes. Fruit and other foods grow on the roof and walls, and the waste generated by the inhabitants becomes nourishment for the structure (a closed-loop system in which, as Bill McDonough says, waste=food)."
No, it’s not a new thought that plants can shelter us, can heal us, can educate us. Why shouldn’t we embrace that idea, cultivate that idea, play with that idea? Terence McKenna in "Plan/Plant/Planet" raises the question, "What does it mean to accept the solutions of vegetable forms of life as metaphors for the conduct of the affairs of the human world? Two important changes would follow from adopting this assumption: the feminizing of culture on a level that has yet to be fully explored…and an inward search for values….This is the truth that shamans have always known and practiced. Awareness of the green side of mind was called Veriditas by the 12th-century visionary Hildegard von Bingen."

McKenna adds: "Our present global crisis is more profound than any previous historical crises; hence our solutions must be equally drastic." So, we might as well think outside the box. Be it ever so humble there’s no place like home sweet home, even if it’s a gourd.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

If I knew what frim i'd post it here but with a little searching you may find a starchitect architecture firm that is growing houses. They create a frame out of rebar and then plant whatever species of plants around the rebar... inside i think they use a thin layer of cob or something to block the elements. anyways jsut saying waht little bit i know. I think it's a great idea to haev a home that is actually alive. but what happens when the plants die?

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