Guess Line Architects, an innovative architectural bureau in Lviv, recently won the prestigious international competition eVolo Skyscraper Competition, an annual architectural contest to design futuristic skyscrapers. The competition has been held since 2006 and 500-1000 participants apply annually. In 2021, 492 projects from the four corners of the world were submitted to the global jury.
The Guess Line team designed a living skyscraper for New York entirely built from a pre-programmed tree. The original idea was highly praised by the international jury, which recognized the work of the Ukrainian team as the best among all the participants.
Andrii Lesyuk, one of the members of the competition team, said the idea to design a building from a living tree came quite unexpectedly.
“I learned about this competition when I was still a student and have always dreamt of taking part and, of course, winning! At the end of 2020, we decided to participate and started looking for an idea. My father was inspired by our project. One day, he told me he’d watched an interesting documentary about the paulownia – a genus of angiosperm trees, and one of the fastest growing hardwood trees in the world. It can grow up to five meters per year… and as high as 30 meters! It’s also called the ‘aluminum of timber’, because it’s naturally resistant to fire, salt water, termites, decay and rot! I began thinking that if could accelerate the growth of these trees, they could reach an even greater height and we could mold them into any shape. With the help of special guideway systems, we can even grow a skyscraper.”
According to the architects, chairs and bridges are already being grown from wood, and wooden living quarters will be programmed in the near future.
“Of course, this idea looks pretty abstract today. But it’s really quite realistic for the near future. Just imagine that scientists can invent a tree that will grow not five times faster than a paulownia, but 30-40 times faster! Then you can grow an entire building in 15 years, a structure that doesn’t require any building materials, and is nurtured solely by fertilizers and water.
So, we must first plant a tree, and as soon as it starts growing, we shape the body of the tree, mold the smaller branches into rooms, walls, etc. The smaller branches create the inner space. We actually program the tree and ‘tell’ it how to grow,” explains Andrii Lesyuk.
The architects underline that their project is environmentally friendly, as such buildings will not have a negative impact on the environment.
[editorial]The Ukrainian Project
Living Skyscrapers for New York City
2021 Skyscraper Competition
Andrii Lesiuk, Mykhaylo Kohut, Sofiia Shkoliar, Kateryna Ivashchuk, Nazarii Duda, Mariia Shkolnyk, Oksana-Daryna Kytsiuk, Andrii Honcharenko
One of the main goals of the project is to grow a living skyscraper on the principle of sustainable architecture.
The building will function in the middle of a grey megalopolis and solve a number of important environmental and urban issues. By analyzing the active process of urbanization and a decrease in the percentage of green spaces as a phenomenon that provokes a number of environmental problems.
We believe that by integrating genetically modified trees during the stage of their growth and development into architecture, we can restore the balance between the digitalized megacities and the Earth’s resources, which are gradually depleted.
A skyscraper tree is a separate living organism with its own root system, irrigation, care mechanisms, and features of development focused on its adaptation to use in architecture. It is a group of unique fast-growing and tall hardwood deciduous trees, which are planted in groups in specially prepared soil (to obtain resources) and in the process of their growth from a unique architectural volume.
The plant absorbs water and nutrients, which are distributed from root to tip. At the same time, the growth of the trunk circumference will gradually increase the strength of the wood structure and improve its self-supporting properties.
During development, the branches of nearby trees will be grafted at different levels and form a network structure – a kind of conjugation that will strengthen the structure and continue its growth. The branches of hybrid “trees of the future” will form the structure of a living skyscraper, form even, separate biomorphic structures, and feed on soil, water, and sun resources, forming an ecosystem that is essential for large agglomerations. As it grows, a living skyscraper can connect with nearby buildings and form green overhanging communications over a block. The functional purpose of skyscrapers can vary depending on the need. Our skyscraper in the center of New York City will serve as a lookout tower with its own flora and fauna, as well as ecological communication between office buildings with a green recreation center.[/editorial]