Trees are killed in order to construct a typical wooden building, but not this ‘wooden’ cathedral made entirely of living, breathing trees.
Giuliano Mauri was the Italian artist responsible for envisioning and bringing to life this stunning piece of architecture, a building that does not take away from the natural landscape, nor compete with it, but instead is truly a part of nature.
Mauri, who passed away in 2009, had a vision of this perfect Tree Cathedral in Valsugana, Italy. In 2001-2002, Mauri began to lay the foundations for the living cathedral and in 2010, shortly after his passing, his exquisite creation came to life. One day, the trees will grow up and together, forming a vaulted canopy ceiling made entirely of tree branches and leaves.
Known as “Cattedrale Vegetale” (Tree Cathedral), the masterpiece is located at the base of Mount Arera, near the outskirts of Bergamo. Check out the incredible cathedral made entirely of trees here!
Although the man labor was completed back in 2010, the cathedral still has a lot of developing to do. In these photos you can see the framework columns outlining the trees, these columns will eventually decay and rot away, leaving beautifully matured hornbeam trees as the only form of walls and ceiling.
The hornbeam trees can be seen inside of the framework, but they still have a lot of growing to do in order for their canopies to grow together. Once the canopies morph into one, they will form the spectacular vaulted ceiling of a Gothic cathedral.
The Tree Cathedral is made of 42 different columns that form five aisles. The columns incorporate 1,800 spruce trunks and 600 chestnut tree branches woven together with 6,000+ meters of hazelnut twigs. Nails, string, and local traditional methods for intertwining and weaving were utilized in order to secure the columns around the trees.
Once the wooden columns decay and collapse, the 80 hornbeam sapling trees will take over as the walls and ceiling, creating a truly organic, all natural, and very alive cathedral.
A cathedral is a place to pray, reflect, and give thanks, and what better way to get in touch with your own roots than to be in such a natural building.
The Tree Cathedral stretches over 90 feet long, is nearly 80 feet wide, and varies in height from around 16 feet all the way to 70 feet. The manpower behind this 650 square meter creation took a lot of time to put together, and it still isn’t complete in the sense the trees have to grow and fill it out.
Mauri was born in 1938 in Lodi Vecchio, the late artist developed a reputation for his natural architectural creations. Mauri always enjoyed using branches and wood trunks to build buildings that look real, and which can be filled in by nature as the process of disintegration takes place.
This natural method of building allows the artist to work like a partner with nature, as nature fills in its own details to an artist’s vision. Mauri has created other natural architectural designs as well, such as the vegetable Bridge at the Castle of Padernello, completed in 2008.
The Tree Cathedral is acknowledged as one of the world’s most impressive forms of “natural architecture.” The incredible site now stands in tribute to Mauri’s impressive work. It also stands as inspiration to everyone to incorporate nature into more aspects of human life, the results are good for you and I, as well as the beautiful planet we call home.
Photo Credits: giulianomauri.com, Virtual Sacred Space, Michele Salmaso, Aldo Fedele, Arte Sella, Pava, Arte Sella, Ettore Galata Rizzardini, Pava, Giacomo Bianchi, Riccardo Senia, Pierangelo Zavatarelli, Marco Rosato, santino, Il Giardino Sfumato