Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Living Architecture Takes Root in Oban

Think of Oban, the sleepy port town in the Scottish Western Highlands, and you'll probably call to mind McCaig's Tower, the folly overlooking the bay that was commissioned by its namesake in 1897 to keep the town's local stonemasons in work. Now, thanks to the feats of German architect Marcel Kalberer, head of the firm Sanfte Strukturen, the town can finally lay claim to two sculptures with real architectural clout.

Nestled in the gardens of the Dunollie Castle estate, the 22ft woven tower and dome are made entirely of live willow branches, sourced from Glasgow. The branches will continue to grow over the coming months, thereby altering the form of the natural structures. Kalberer refers to his designs as "living architecture" due to the botanical and ecological implications behind the architecture and the fact that all of his structures are brought to life by a community of volunteers. The tower, for example, took a week to build and will change gradually with the passing of the seasons. The theory behind the process is to show the value of socially-sustainable buildings and encourage human co-existence with the natural world.

Karlberer has designed a number of green cathedrals, towers and domes from willow branches including 'Auerworld Palace' in Germany which is the world's largest living structure of its kind. The as yet unnamed works on show in Oban are the first examples to be shown in Britain, built on the proceeds of a £5,900 grant from Creative Scotland. Visit them for free if you're making any visits over to the Western Isles, or for more information and further examples of Karlberer's work, read on at the link below: