Urban architects and town planners can learn something from living root bridges of Meghalaya

A team of researchers from Technical University of Munich (TUM) in Germany, which analysed scores of living bridges in the northeastern Indian State thinks that such botanical architecture of integrating plants in buildings can help adapt better to the impacts of climate change.

It takes decades if not centuries to complete a living bridge made of Ficus elastica (Indian rubber tree) . Often many generations are involved in the building process. “The bridges are a unique example of future-oriented building. We can learn much from this: today we are faced with environmental problems that will not only affect us, but also subsequent generations. We should approach this topic as the Khasis have,” says Ludwig.

In a paper (https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-48652-w ) published in the journal Scientific Reports recently, the TUM scientists led by Ferdinand Ludwig, Professor for Green Technologies in Landscape Architecture at TUM said learnings from the traditional techniques of the Khasi people can promote the further development of modern architecture.

“The technique of using aerial roots of Ficus elastica (Indian rubber tree) to form bridges is a unique example of botanical architecture grown without the tools of modern engineering design. While there is quite a number of examples of living architecture worldwide, living root bridges provide the only known example of repeated, predictable use of tree growth for structural purposes,” the scientists said.

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