Known as the “Mother of all willow palaces” this living structure (palace really) was created in 1998 in Aeurstedt, Germany in the region between Weimar and Naumburg.
Weaving live saplings together to form a domed cathedral space, architect Marcel Kalberer and his group Sanfte Strukturen are re-envisioning the way living building materials and techniques can be used. This palace took the efforts of 300 volunteers to build, but now, over ten years later, it serves as a home for impromptu gatherings particularly for natural events such as the the full moon and other cultural and community celebrations.
The building techniques are based on the ancient Sumerian reed houses of Mesopotamia. These were known for their construction by use of tightly bound reeds. In this case the whole tree is woven in place to form a living structure.
Kalberer began his first living construction in 1984 and since then has built more than 70 structures around Europe. He has also shared and explained his technique to others, and according to Kalberer, there are now more than 10,000 small willow constructions at schools and in private gardens around Germany.
Created by Marcel Kalberer with Sanfte Strukturen (Bernadette Mercx, Dorothea Kalb-Brenek, Anna Kalberer, Eugen Lüdi, Jacky Roland,Philippe Rohner). Images from by Peter Ganser and from the Sanfte Strukturen website.