Villagers in Meghalaya, India have come up with a unique construction technique that harnesses nature in its purest form - they grow their own living bridges! Using the roots of the Ficus elastica tree (rubber fig tree), the residents have woven an elaborate system of living bridges, some of which are thought to be over 500 years old. These extraordinary examples of living architecture are also lessons in patience, since they take about 15 years to grow. With age though, the living root bridges grow stronger and can often support the weight of 50 or more people at a time!
The town of Cherrapunji in the Khasi Hills is credited with the world record for annual rainfall of over 75 ft!
And in this rainy, wet climate, the rubber fig tree grows with abandon.
The tree has a secondary root system that grows up above the ground floor and lets the tree easily grown on top of boulders and even out in the middle of streams.
Long ago, the war-Khasis, a tribe in Meghalaya region, realized they could tap into the power of these roots and use them to their own advantage.
To make a tree grow in a certain direction, the tribes people use the trunks of a betul nut tree, sliced down the middle and hollowed out as a guidance system.
By manipulating and directing the secondary roots, they could create ultra strong and living bridges with which to cross their streams.