Bijan Haghnegahdar, a designer in New York City, came up with an interesting idea which he calls Being Nature. The idea was born out of the simple observation that we as humans like to keep the things that are necessary for our survival – mainly trees and plants – out of our habitats. It seems strange that we would want to separate ourselves from the very things that keep us alive. Haghnegahdar sought to change this paradigm by designing habitable buildings supported by trees and other foliage. With the use of scaffolding put into place by the architect, the trees will grow around the scaffolding and form the framework of the building. Walls and floors will be formed using thick moss and ivy. What’s even more intriguing is that Haghnegahdar also identified the natural-equivalents of Radiators, Sinks, Shutters and Lightbulbs which would be grown within the building. The result is a very intriguing structural design with a very organic appearance. It would certainly be a great way to integrate the natural world with the artificial urban world.
Of course, as with many ideas envisioned by designers, these natural buildings are only conceptual ideas. While the design is based on current science and technology, Haghnegahdar makes it clear that these structures are grown “using botanical hybridization techniques in conjunction with speculative advances in biotechnology,” the key word being speculative. And there’s also the main obstacle with growing your own structures – time. Mitchell Joachim, one of the founders of Terreform ONE also came up with a “grown home” design called the Fab Tree Hab, but also consented that such a design would take some time to grow (Terreform ONE also designed a Meat Habitat…slightly less aesthetically pleasing in my opinion). It may take years, or even decades for the trees to form the necessary framework. And in our current world of rapid population growth, time may not be something we can spend freely. Additionally, when/if such buildings are grown, it may take quite a while for us to get used to the new interior design. I admit, although I am all for such a design, I am hesitant to imagine what it would be like to be surrounded with moss, soil and most probably insects. I like my clean, minimalist interiors. But I guess that is the current paradigm – our homes are meant to keep us separate (protected) from the natural environment, not to open ourselves up to the natural environment. But I’m sure if such a thing were to be grown, plenty of people would be lining up for the chance to live in such a building. After all, who wouldn’t want to say they get to sleep on a “cotton puff bed”?