Today would be the 160th birthday of our favorite nature-loving Spanish Catalan architect, Antoni Gaudí. His appreciation and love of nature is often credited to the sun-drenched summers he spent as a child in the Tarragona province of Spain, an idyllic landscape known for hazelnuts, olive oil, and a raucous festival featuring human castles and bestiary.
In honor of Gaudí’s greatest achievement, the mind-blowing Sagrada Família in Barcelona whose stunning nave is without a doubt the most beautiful architectural and artistic representation of a tree ever created, we’ve taken a look at some of today’s most inspired contemporary living designs. From nest houses to cherry blossom retreats, click through to check out the very best of architecture you can grow.
The Patient Gardener Study Retreat by VISIONDIVISION — Milan, Italy
Image credit: Architizer
Appropriately named, this two-story study retreat grown out of 10 intertwined Japanese cherry blossom trees will be fully formed in about 60 years.
The Nest Houses by Patrick Dougherty — New Harmony, Indiana
Image credit: stickwork
Live in a giant nest designed by sticks works pioneer James Dougherty.
Asakusa Tree by RAA Architects — Tokyo, Japan
Image credit: Ryuichi Ashizawa Architects via designboom
A living façade proposed for the entrance to Sosenji-Temple, a popular tourist destination in Tokyo. Each floor “is supported by spiraled pillars that grow like a vine,” and the building itself runs off of natural energy from the sun, wind, and rain.
Ground Beneath by Jaakko Pernu — Nallikari, Oulu
Image credit: Wall-Mag
The ultimate open-air pavilion cum treehouse that offers hours of climbing fun.
Ficus House — Okinawa, Japan
Image credit: Arborsmithing
Inspired by the great arborsmith and creator of the tree circus, Axel Erlandson, this fast-growing ficus treehouse is something you can literally plant and watch grow.
Tree Home by RAA — Osaka, Japan
Image credit: iGreenspot
An open-air home inspired by a tree.
Fab Tree Hab by Mitchell Joachim and Javier Arbona
Image credit: Popular Science via Edward Cotton
Architects Mitchell Joachim and Javier Arbona, along with environmental engineer Lara Greden, have “designed a house that will grow from a few seedlings into a two-story, water-recycling, energy-efficient abode.” Fab tree hab indeed.
Botany Buildings by Oliver Storz, Ferdinand Ludwig and Hannes Schwertfeger
Image credit: inhabitat
In time, this clever arbo-architecture is designed to support itself. Why cut down trees for timber when you can just plant them for solid, living structural support?
Baubotanical Tower by Ferdinand Ludwig — Neue Kunst am Ried, Germany
Image credit: Ferdinand Ludwig
This gorgeous lookout tower naturally changes form with the seasons.
Chopstick Concession Stand and Swingset by VISIONDIVISION — Indianapolis, Indiana
Image credit: VISIONDIVISION
Taking cues from a simple wooden chopstick, this snack stand swing hybrid is built out of one single log (aka a “chopstick”).