Living root bridges

Signal of change / Living root bridges

By Gemma Adams / 05 May 2017
In the depths of northeastern India, one of the wettest places on earth, bridges aren’t built – they’re grown. The living bridges of Cherrapunji, India are made from the roots of the Ficus elastica tree. This tree produces a series of secondary roots from higher up its trunk and can comfortably perch atop huge boulders along the riverbanks, or even in the middle of the rivers themselves. In order to make a rubber tree’s roots grow in the right direction – say, over a river – the Khasis use betel nut trunks, sliced down the middle and hollowed out, to create root-guidance systems. The thin, tender roots of the rubber tree, prevented from fanning out by the betel nut trunks, grow straight out. When they reach the other side of the river, they’re allowed to take root in the soil. Given enough time, a sturdy, living bridge is produced.

So what?

What could 21th century architects learn from these dynamic construction principles? What effect might a living architecture have on our energy system, on our use of resources and on our sense of connectedness with nature?

Sources

https://www.nextnature.net/2009/08/living-root-bridges/

What might the implications of this be? What related signals of change have you seen?

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