Once a far-fetched futuristic idea, a building made of living trees is now not only possible but is also a reality – amazing living architecture that uses growing trees as their structural supports, twisted, shaped and connected as they make their way skyward.

These so-called Baubotanic (Botany Buildings) by students from the University of Stuttgart use trees that meet a series of critical criteria, from fast growth rates to flexibility, adaptability and durability. The core structures are augmented with artificial elements and can be used to support everything from rooms and platforms to towers and walkways.

More details via Spiegel:

This is probably the biggest project to date within an innovative branch of architecture — no pun intended. Ludwig and fellow architects, Oliver Storz and Hannes Schwertfeger, call their new specialty ‘building botany.’ As part of this the three men are building structures made from plants as well as studying the elasticity of plane trees and examining how effectively willows can grow around steel pipes at the University of Stuttgart’s Institute of Basics in Modern Architectural Design.”

“In our opinion trees are high-tech material, which is why plant growth is part of our vision,” says Schwertfeger. “We start them off but the tree itself continues the building process,” Ludwig adds. “In architectural terms it’s very risky — but it’s a positive risk.”

Unlike conventional construction, there are many unique challenges that come with custom tree building techniques. Connections must be checked and added by hand as growth progresses, variations in strength have to be accounted for and stability is paramount – these are just some the flip-sides of using living and growing materials.

While there are limitations to this kind of construction, tree buildings have a great deal of potential for do-it-yourself types who enjoy having a hand in the creation of their own alternative-style abode.