Looking to nature to solve the problems created by humans isn’t a new concept. But as green building gains more traction, companies are searching for new ways to include the environment. The Tree Path is an incredible example and jump forward in eco-friendly design. This design by Carlo Ratti Associati doesn’t just honor nature, it is nature.

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Pedestrians using the walkway

The Tree Path leads to an amazing destination: Sabbioneta. Not only is the northern Italy location amazing, but it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Furthermore, design firm Carlo Ratti Associati, non-profit group GAL Terre del Po and the Office for Living Architecture, experts in using living trees as a construction material, worked together on this innovative design.

Related: This canopy walkway elevates Shenzhen library-goers into the treetops

A biker riding across the tree path

This is an elevated bicycle path that goes up between the trees, with two parallel rows of plants acting as pillars. Here, the artificial and the natural blend together into a single design where both rely upon the other. Embedded sensors throughout track environmental conditions and provide data about what’s happening with the climate at all times. In detail, the sensors provide information about air pollution, the growth status of individual trees and other weather info. The sensor network was provided by Mindicity Urban Intelligence platform.

Underneath the walkway on a sunny day

Designs like this that rely on trees to provide structural elements are known as Baubotanik in German, which means botanic construction. The trees are living architectural elements of the design. In fact, it will take around one thousand trees to bring this design to life, pardon the pun. A stainless steel handrail also weaves through the design and provides a framework for the trees. This will soon become the basis for a living path that will continue to evolve and grow over the years, just like the planet itself.

The Tree Path above roads and the countryside

The path also rises up over the Italian countryside, over waterways and roads. It gets as high as 19 and a half feet above the ground.

“What if one day we could grow architecture like a tree? We are still very far from that future, but we can start exploring the convergence between the natural and the artificial. We can use trees as elements of construction while leveraging the data from digital technologies to get a better understanding of the surrounding environment,” says Carlo Ratti.

+ Carlo Ratti Associati

Images via Carlo Ratti Associati