Living Bridges

“a commitment to the cultivation of life is a practice whose value far transcends the pettiness of individual products; it represents an heroic enlargement of work to an ethics, and a commitment to a human social ecology that far exceeds the usual posture of voluntary submission to the law of markets. No one knows where such an experiment will go, and it is one certainly rife with traps and dead ends. What is most beautiful about it, in fact, might well be its potential to magnify risk.” Sanford Kwinter
In the forests of Meghalaya, India, the War-Khasis people have used the growth during the rainy season to their advantage. They guide the roots of an abundant species of rubber tree in order to create these living organic bridges. These are so sturdy that they can support the weight of up to fifty people . Because they are alive and still growing, the bridges actually gain strength over time – and some of the ancient root bridges used daily by the people of the villages around Cherrapunji may be well over five hundred years old. The root bridges, some of spanning over a hundred feet long, take ten to fifteen years to become fully functional. The time is not that far off from a getting a building built today.

For the logistics behind construction
to make a rubber tree’s roots grow in the right direction, the Khasis use betel nut trunks, sliced down the middle and hollowed out, to create root-guidance systems. Technically, the roots could be guided to any direction, say even to become a dwelling.
The thin, tender roots of the rubber tree, prevented from fanning out by the betel nut trunks, grow straight out. When they reach the other side of the river, they’re allowed to take root in the soil. Given enough time, a sturdy, living bridge is produced.

This is quite similar to the FAB Tree HAB by Terreform. Instead of using the betel nut trucks, they propose to use prefabricated Computer Numeric Controlled cut reusable scaffolds. Imagine if Levittown was grown instead of built?

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