Botanical principles of Baubotanik and their use at design


Ph.D. Thesis "Botanical principles of Baubotanik and their use at design" | Author: Dr.-Ing. Ferdinand Ludwig | Institute: IGMA  |Advisors: Prof. Dr. Gerd de Bruyn, Prof. Dr. Thomas Speck


Goal of the PhD intentions was to develop an important botanical basis and to make it applicable for designs in the Baubotanik. This origins in the idea of putting together a multiplicity of single young plants to create baubotanical structures. These grow together to an artificial formed collective organism (plant addition). The assignment was composed of three parts dealing with botanical, technical and conceptual questions.  

Experiment design / greenhouse
Experiment design / greenhouse

In the first part, the central question was, how adequate plant material for baubotanical applications can be produced. For this purpose the spectral density of light was specifically changed with filter foils in a special propagation green house to encourage the plants to a shade escape reaction at a maximum of growth intensity. The goal was, by controlling the ecological factors, to breed preferably long and thin sprouts that are able to be bent round in any narrow radius and consequently ubiquitous applicable in the Baubotanik. In a second step, these sprouts were tested anatomically and biomechanically to be able to describe relevant characteristics for baubotanical use and to be able to explain their cause.  

Cross-section of parallel knot
Cross-section of parallel knot

In the second part, basic principles for the development of connection technologies for practical use were designed and the suitability of different types of trees for baubotanical applications was tested. For that purpose different connection technologies were established at ten different types of trees and multiple connection geometries within a screening and the process of connation was documented over a time of one to three years both morphologically and anatomically. The connation at the chosen or rather developed connection techniques happens similar to the natural connation in a double-staged process, beginning with the fusion of the bark tissue and ending with the wooden tissue. To merge the plants, high-tensile ropes as well as high-grade steel screws and elastic straps were used. Altogether plane trees proved to be particularly convenient, as with this type of tree all tested connection techniques are applicable and connation occurs rapidly.  

Visualization Tower
Visualization Tower

The third part of the assignment dealt with the conception and the realization of a prototypical building. By taking the example of a three-story tower, it could be shown how the rules and the coherences of botanical growth in the Baubotanik become essential design rules. In the implemented diamond-shaped plant structure of the tower, the influence of the inclination angle of a sprout on its growth as well as aspects of the flow of the plant juice were reflected. With calculating the volumes of tree tops, a tool for prognosis of the assessment of the growth in girt, based on the calculation of biomass allocation, was developed.

The assignment was supervised by Prof. Dr. Gerd de Bruyn(IGMA) and Prof. Dr. Thomas Speck (PBMG University of Freiburg)and was sponsored in the context of the scholarship program of the German Bundesstiftung Umwelt.