© Neeraj Rao, www.flickr.com
© Neeraj Rao, www.flickr.com

Buildings made of living plants play a central role in the history of the European culture of gardening and can be found in many different cultural and historical contexts. Baubotanik roots in a kind of prehistorical bioengineering, which is still practised by the Khasi, a tribe in the Indian rainforest.: Using a cleverly-devised method, they channel aerial roots of the Indian rubber tree over rivers and enlace them to create a net-like structure. In the course of time, this structure grows together and builds a robust and accessible construction – a sort of living bridge.


Therefore Baubotanik can be seen as an attempt to transform this approach into a modern building technique. Scientific findings of botanical research provide a basis to analyze the possibilities of building and designing with living plants systematically and to develop construction methods, taking advantage of modern gardening technologies.


Nevertheless, Baubotanik is also a horticultural building technique: The botanical building materials are grown in plant nurseries and also the constructions need to be looked after by gardeners constantly, otherwise they will become feral in no time and therefore will lose their usability, especially as a building material. 


A horticultural mindset and behavior are already necessary during the planning phase, where constructional and architectural objectives need to be leveled with the requirements and principles of the botanical growth. The determining factor is not to plan a complete building but to create an initial set-up and a process of development. And as different stages of growth admit different ways of use, also the use of the plants needs to be designed as a process, depending directly on the growth of the plants.