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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Living and Playing in the Trees

Plantware: Photo by Plantware

The ultimate in green living is almost here. Think bus shelters, street lamps, and even houses -- all grown from trees. The process of shaping living trees to create objects, referred to as arborsculpture and pooktre, is well known among hobbyists (a simple Web search shows plenty of results for the art form). Now, researchers at Israel's Tel Aviv University are teaming up with eco-living company Plantware to create commercial structures on a larger scale.

Expect to see results in the U.S., Australia, and Israel, where the joint team has set up eco-architecture projects to create civic amenities, including playgrounds, hospital benches, street lamps, and gates. Instead of shaping trees grown in soil and water to form these structures, the team will grow trees in the air, to create malleable "soft roots." This patented engineering technique will make it easier to build larger structures. How large? Possibly as big as an entire house. According to Plantware, it will be about a decade, though, before the first prototype of this green home appears. As we all know, trees don't just grow overnight.


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