Living Architecture

3.9 based on 8 ratings

Updated on Feb 08, 2012

Grade Level: 9th - 12th; Type: Architecture


Design an architectural structure using live trees. The goals of this project are:

  1. To explore the possibilities of live trees in architecture.
  2. To promote greener living.

Research Questions:

  • How are live trees used in architecture?
  • How is the environment affected by the use of live trees in architecture?
  • How can the existing technology be improved upon?

Using live trees in architectural design can be an eco-friendly alternative to chopping them down. In this project you will design and build your own architectural structure, using live trees as your structural foundation.


  • Computer with Internet access
  • Color printer
  • Digital camera
  • Typical office/hobby/hardware/craft supplies (paper, poster board, glue, etc.)
  • Live, growing trees
  • Building materials such as a tarp, canvas, wood, sheet metal or plastics.
  • Construction supplies such as rope, saw, hammer, nails, etc.

All necessary materials can be found in or around your home, at local stores, or on ebay.

Experimental Procedure:

  1. Read overview of relevant topics (see bibliography below and terms listed above)
  2. Address all of the above terms and research questions.
  3. Search and print out interesting images relevant to your topic.
  4. Take photographs throughout the course of the experiment.
  5. Design and build an original scale model representing live tree architecture.
  6. Build a full-size version of your shelter or sculpture, using one or more live trees. Try to come up with new ideas, or improve on existing designs.
  7. Take necessary safety precautions when testing your creation.
  8. Interpret your findings in a detailed report.
  9. Include interesting photos, diagrams and models in your science fair display.

Terms/Concepts: Arboreal Architecture; Arborsculpture


Judee Shipman is a Bay Area Educational Consultant and professional writer of quality educational materials. Her recent writing credits include (a popular and entertaining website about states), and a book called The Portable Chess Coach (Cardoza, 2006), currently available in stores.

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