Weaving live saplings together to form a kind of domed cathedral space, architect Marcel Kalberer and his group Sanfte Strukturen are re-envisioning the way living building materials and techniques can be used to design modern spaces.
Constructed in 1998, the Auerworld Palace in Auerstedt, Germany was their first “willow palace’ project, taking the efforts of 300 volunteers to build. The palace is now 10 years old - their techniques, however, are ancient. The Sumerian reed houses of Mesopotamia were famous for their construction of tightly bound reeds, and in Europe smaller outbuildings have been made of woven plants and trees for hundreds of years. Most of these are built from green branches, though. In this case the whole tree is woven in place to form a living structure.
Kalberer began his first construction in 1984 and since then has built more than 70 structures around Europe. He has also shared and explained his technique to others, and according to Kalberer, there are now more than 10,000 small willow constructions at schools and in private gardens around Germany.The Auerworld Palace is also the home to full moon dance parties known as the Auerworld Festivals, which have been going on since 1998, when this living palace was first created.
Know Before You Go
Auerstedt is 40 km east of Weimar.
- Correspondence, photos courtesy of Marcel Kalberer, designer
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- Many more images of Sanfte Strukturen