Could We Construct Skyscrapers Inside Trees?

Such a feat would be the ultimate combination of architecture and nature, taking the typology of the tree house not just to a new level, but to new heights altogether.

Sydney Franklin Sydney Franklin

What if we could save dying trees by building structural habitats inside them? A South Korean design team has envisioned just that with a conceptual scheme to construct towers inside the hollowed-out trunks of giant sequoia trees in the Pacific Northwest. Such a feat would be the ultimate combination of architecture and nature, taking the typology of the tree house not just to a new level, but to new heights altogether.

The project, called Tribute: The Monument of Giant, was conceived by Ko Jinhyeuk, Cheong Changwon, Cho Kyunhung and Choi Sunwoong. The team won an honorable mention for its resourceful concept in the 2017 eVolo skyscraper competition where designers are invited to conceive futuristic towers.

Giant sequoias are a variety of redwood trees native to the Sierra Nevada mountain range in Northern California and some of the oldest living organisms on Earth. Averaging heights of 50 to 85 meters [160 to 280 feet] and diameters of 6 to 8 meters [20 to 26 feet], the massive trees — thanks to their shallow root systems — are at risk of falling fiercely to the forest ground when their core heartwood starts to rot.

The conceptual design of Tribute calls for the insertion of a new skeletal framework set inside the empty void of the dying tree’s trunk. Becoming an artificial organ inside the tree, the architecture would serve as the lifeblood and pump activity throughout the structure.

An additional lattice-like cage would serve as an outer shell behind the tree’s thick bark. The interior would be divided into a series of platforms used for various programming like education and exhibition spaces, laboratories and observation decks. In keeping with the natural habitat, water used throughout the structure would be drawn up from the ground, mimicking the tree’s own collection method.

Tribute was designed to bring awareness to the plight of trees and the damage of deforestation as well as its leading role in causing natural disasters. The design team wants to spark conversation about the ways in which humanity and nature should support one another in living in a way that’s ecologically friendly.

Now that such a scheme is visually imaginable, consider standing mid-rise, inside a giant sequoia, looking out at a dense forest landscape. It’s a strikingly different picture than the concrete urban jungles we’ve created in the world’s most crowded cities, even those that are trying to incorporate verdant towers to enhance air quality and promote healthy living.

While Tribute may not be a feasible design solution to climate change or deforestation today, it sheds light on the increasing urgency of protecting nature for a healthier Earth tomorrow.

Images via dezeen

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