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Are living treehouse skyscrapers the future?

Many of us grew up wishing we could build our own fantasy tree houses. This year’s eVolo competition winner could soon make that a reality with these wild ‘treehouse skyscraper’ designs.

What do you first think of when someone mentions a ‘treehouse skyscraper’? While it might initially conjure up images of giant beanstalks, the concept could soon be a very real feature of our most famous skylines.

Ukranian-based design team Guess Line Architects are behind these winning concept pictures, which show off skyscrapers grown from actual trees. The team beat nearly 500 other submissions to take first prize. Our primate ancestors would be proud.

It’s all part of the prestigious eVolo Skyscraper Competition awards, which encourage designers to rethink architecture’s relationship with nature.

Given our eco-conscious age, participants are asked to consider the dichotomy between man-made construction and our environment, bringing them together to re-define what our cities can be.

This year’s winning entry, the ‘Living Skyscraper’, pushes this concept to its absolute limits.

The skeleton of the structure is grown from genetically modified, fast growing, hardwood deciduous trees, planted in specially prepared soil. This means that at a biological level, the trees are programmed to grow in a particular way.

This all sounds very sci-fi, but pre-programmed trees have already been used to grow wooden tables, chairs, and even bridges.

Branches from nearby trees will be used during the crucial development phase to reinforce the structure as it grows. Over time, as the circumference of the trunks increases, so will the skyscraper’s stability.

The intended purpose of this initial design is to be a lookout tower in the heart of New York City (at least that’s the official line before Jack returns with the golden-egg-laying goose), and there’s no debate that the ‘Living Skyscraper’ would make a striking addition to the already iconic skyline.

The unique design addresses several issues surrounding urbanisation and the decreasing number of green spaces in our cities.

The architecture world is increasingly addressing this problem with sustainable solutions, such as incorporating solar panels in their designs, using recycled materials, and including more space for plants and trees to offset the environmental impact.

What sets the ‘Living Skyscraper’ above these other concepts – and the reason it’s award winning – is the innovative decision to have the bare bones of the building made from this carbon-eating material.

Living in a Lothlórien-like tree citadel might no longer be reserved for characters in fantasy novels.

Who would have guessed that elves had the right idea all along?