Arboreal Architecture: Taking Inspiration from Trees

Where would we be without trees? They’re such an important part of the natural world, it’s no surprise that trees inspire art, design and architecture with their elegance, strength and sense of history. These 14 architectural works, including memorials, restaurants, commercial structures and public pavilions, have taken visual and symbolic cues from trees in both bold and subtle ways.

Memorial for Tree of Knowledge, Queensland, Australia

(images via: dezeen)

Framing the remains of a dead tree that marks the spot where the Australian Labour Party is said to have been founded in 1891, the Memorial for the Tree of Knowledge consists of 3,600 individual hanging timber slats. The structure follows the original shape of the ghost gum tree, which was poisoned in 2006. Though from the outside it looks like a fairly conventional building with a cube shape, the memory of the tree becomes clear once inside.

Tree Restaurant by Koichi Takada Architects

(images via: dezeen)

An abstract interpretation of a tree canopy forms the basis of the Tree Restaurant, located near Sydney, Australia and designed by Koichi Takada Architects. The tree’s ‘trunk’ stands in the center of the sushi bar, extending its branches out to cover the entire ceiling of the restaurant. Lighting concealed within the louvres of timber give the ceiling gives off a dappled effect.

Buildings Literally Grown From Trees

(images via: design boom)

Trees are grown and bent to create incredible living structures at the University of Stuttgart’s Institute of Basics in Modern Architectural Design. The students working on the project plant fast-growing trees like willows and shape them around steel support systems, testing their elasticity to see whether this building technique could be a viable way to make cities greener.

Tree-Inspired Facade on the Tripoli Congress Center

(images via: inhabitat)

The perforated metal facade at the energy-efficient, day-lit, largely recyclable Tripoli Congress Center in Libya gives the impression of tree trunks in a forest, especially when illuminated from within. The facade provides lots of filtered light as well as privacy to the interior of the building which is situated near the woods. This impressively green government building has water-efficient fixtures and landscaping, on-site greywater recycling and natural ventilation.

The Tote by Serie Architects

(images via: dezeen)

This banqueting hall in Mumbai, India looks almost elvish with its white branches, which give the impression of an avenue of snow-covered trees. The design, which was part of a renovation of historic colonial buildings in India, was partially inspired by the beautiful ‘rain trees’ that surround the site.

Forest-Like Aviary in Switzerland

(images via: group8)

An aviary on an artificial island in a Geneva, Switzerland public park was designed based on the shapes of the existing natural trees that surround it. Abstract in shape, the aviary features 16 tree-like steel pillars supporting a concrete roof. The architects say, “Aviaries are about verticality and flying, they are about three dimensional space, they are about defining spaces for birds, not for humans. Two more approaches are essential to the design of this peculiar house: the difficult ethical issue of caging, putting animals in a container partially for the pleasure of the visitors and that of creating a nature-simulator in order to reproduce some kind of natural-like environment.”

Tod’s by Toyo Ito, Tokyo

(images via: galinsky)

Structural concrete ‘tree limbs’ wrap around the six facades of the exterior of the Tod’s Omotesando Building in Tokyo, a distinctive building designed by famed architect Toyo Ito. The shape of these limbs were derived from the zelkova trees that line Omotesando Avenue. “The Tod’s Omotesando Building is an ambitious project embodying concepts and techniques at the forefront of contemporary architecture. With this project I am striving to transcend that architectural Modernism that characterized the twentieth century.”

Sea Tree Concept by Waterstudio.nl

(images via: waterstudio.nl)

Amsterdam-based architects Waterstudio.nl envision a tree-shaped floating habitat that can provide a protected reserve for the nature that is being displaced by urban growth. The ‘Sea Tree’ is a floating, tiered pillar that moves slightly with water currents and the wind, its submerged tiers providing homes for coral and other marine life while its upper tiers harbor birds, bees, bats and other animals.

Trunk House, Australia

(images via: paul morgan architects)

A rustic cabin by Paul Morgan Architects employs natural ‘tree forks’ salvaged from the commercial logging industry to support its roof. These forks are ideal for load-bearing applications, and they also give the cabin plenty of charm that reflects its natural surroundings in Victoria, Australia.

Metropol Parasol Pavilion

(images via: yatzer)

The world’s largest wooden structure stands out as an amorphous shape among the urban clutter of Seville, Spain. Looking like a huge artificial canopy of trees, the Metropol Parasol functions as an archaeological site, farmer’s market and multi-level plaza with bars and restaurants. It was completed in April 2011and consists of interweaving wooden panels with a waffle-like effect, rising from a concrete base reinforced with steel.

L’arbre de Flonville

(images via: dezeen)

Similar in effect but on a much smaller scale, L’arbre de Flonville invokes a tree shape in abstract form. Providing both shade and seating in a public square of Lausanne, Switzerland, the pavilion is made of steel with a slatted wooden canopy and is surrounded by ‘roots’ that act as benches.

Solar Powered ‘Trees’ in Singapore

(images via: inhabitat)

Singapore’s long-awaited Gardens by the Bay, a 101-acre conservatory, is nearly complete. Part of this incredible project are 18 instantly iconic ‘Supertrees’ which will not only function as rainwater-collecting vertical gardens, but will also generate solar power. Flowering, climbing plants are beginning to make their way up the supports on the tree towers, which will be illuminated at night.

Swaying Tree Shade Structure Mimics Pines

(images via: archdaily)

ARTEKS Arquitectura have completed another example of a tree-inspired canopy, this one actually swaying in the wind to mimic both the shape and movement of nearby pine trees. The salt-resistant fiberglass canopies, which lean at an angle just as the pines do from the forces of the wind off the sea, provide shade and visual interest.

Amazing Camouflage House is Nearly Invisible

(images via: coolhunter)

You wouldn’t notice this house until you actually broke through the tree line and into the yard, so effectively is it camouflaged with its incredible digitally-printed screen. The camo screen allows the timber-clad house to virtually disappear into its environment of fir trees, at least until the lights are on at night.

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