Baubotanik Pavilion with Outdoor Kitchen

In comparison to industrialized building materials, living tree structures are dynamic and heterogeneous. They have complex and diverse topologies and functions, and for this reason, can provide benefits throughout growth, human use, and decay. When these characteristics of living architecture are considered (Baubotanik, see Ludwig, 2016), they contradict the contemporary static design process, where complexity in design and construction is minimized. To address this, a feedback-loop strategy for living architecture is applied to Baubotanik projects using a research-by-design approach (Zimmerman, 2007): design decisions are not made once, but multiple times through the life cycle of the tree structure according to its actual growth; in the meantime, knowledge for manipulating trees is acquired during the repeated process of observation, decision-making and maintenance. This dynamic design process focuses on uncertainty (Cf. Ludwig, 2021), for which digital methods (such as capturing tree status and simulating growth) can be useful.

In this context, the integration of digital tools in a dynamic design workflow and the reactions of humans (both designer and user) and trees to that workflow must be explored. The next generation of landscape- and architecture designers are data natives. The role of computational thinking in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education was widely discussed in recent years (Li, 2020). An education model specifically for living architecture design is therefore in urgent demand, where the future-oriented design approach with multiple dynamic uncertainties is taught. All in all, this study is motivated by two interconnected aims: to explore the workflow of computational living architecture design; and to teach Master students design with trees in a dynamic process.

The subject of the course described here is a Baubotanik pavilion located at Neue Kunst am Ried (Baden-Württemberg, Germany), a space for artists to exhibit work that engages with nature. At the site, a grove of 32 London Plane (Platanus hispanica) trees was planted in 2012. The trees surround stone tables and an oven for visitors to gather, eat, cook, and discuss. In Baubotanik projects, the feedback-loop strategy for designing living architecture is a ping-pong game between designers and trees. In previous Baubotanik projects, designers have always served the first shot – the initial settings are usually completely planned by humans. In the project presented here, the trees serve the ball. A team of 11 students, 3 instructors and 6 prefabricating helpers from diverse disciplines returns the ball by designing and building a roof structure (12m by 4m) supported by the trees. In coming years, these trees are expected to return the ball again by growing onto and through the technical structure. The ping-pong game will continue in this way until the end of trees’ life cycle.



Alessandra Brembati

Baiyu Chen

Xi Chen

Denise Gordeev

Peter Grasegger

Marlena Hellmann

Stella Kampfmeyer

Tsz Ying Ng

Ke Sun

Tobias Winkler

Zhiqing Zhou


Supervision, idea and supervision

Qiguan Shu Werf Middle Luithlen

Wilfrid Middlteon

Ferdinand Ludwig



Cornelius Hackenbracht

Michael Hensel

Verena Vogler


Funding and support

Ove Arup Foundation

Mcneel Europe



KunstKonvent Werkpark - Neue Kunst am Ried

TUM Fakultät für Architektur