I'm Worldbuilding, and in my world, people can grow houses from seeds. My world is not a Fantasy one. Could this theoretically work, and if so, how? (Images by Finnian MacManus) house grown from trees?

Probably interior of house

To start the growth of a structure, several plant weavers confer and attempt to guide powers into the architecture seed. (Not necessarily)

organic growing structures?  Picture brightened by me

Depending on the seeds used, the structure will grow spires, large interior rooms, bedrooms etc.

Is this possible to accomplish without magic?

Edit: Mayonnaise2124, thanks for fixing my question!

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    $\begingroup$ (1) Why do you think that reasonable readers will blindly click on your bare hyperlinks? Are you phishing? (2) If your world does not have magic, what it the intended meaning of the phrase "attempt to guide powers into the architecture seed"? $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Commented Jun 27, 2020 at 13:01
  • $\begingroup$ That's just ritual. I don’t know how to add the picture. $\endgroup$
    – MinSin
    Commented Jun 27, 2020 at 13:36
  • $\begingroup$ i remember theres a real architecture that combining or twisting life tree growth to become house and even chair, it look kinda like the image you show. $\endgroup$
    – Li Jun
    Commented Jun 27, 2020 at 13:36
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    $\begingroup$ Think of all the work that goes into making a bonsai tree do what a person wants it to do. This could theoretically be done to a larger tree. However, I don't think you'll get it that perfect in a reasonable time unless you use magic, magical high technology, or psionics (magic by another name). $\endgroup$
    – NomadMaker
    Commented Jun 27, 2020 at 20:01
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    $\begingroup$ bacteria consolidated sand housing is a thing. basically using bacteria to turn loose sand into buildings. naturalbuildingblog.com/turning-sand-to-stone $\endgroup$
    – John
    Commented Jun 28, 2020 at 2:59

2 Answers 2


Yes... and No...

The tree house or ship trope has been found in science fiction and fantasy for a long time. Three famous examples are the nature-magic-based Elves of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, the Yggdrasil tree ship from the Hyperion stories by Simmons, and the big old tree house found in James Cameron's movie Avatar.

Can you do it in real life? Li Jun makes a compelling argument. But a lot of this really depends on the size and application of the structure.

  • Size is your biggest problem. That first piece of art you show is a massive building. Without magic holding it up, such a structure could never be built on Earth. A single-story structure, sure. Maybe even a 2-story (20 feet or 6 meter) structure. Maybe... a 3-story structure (30 feet or 9 meters). But after that, I'd need to see proof that a strong enough wood could be shaped into such a structure in even a century's time.

And I'm going to ignore time... you have magic, after all. But obviously any serious structure on Earth would take a lifetime if not many generations to create. Hardwoods grow slowly.

  • Complexity is your next problem. Theoretically you can weave floors and rooms into place... but every aspect of a tree continues to grow throughout its life, meaning those "rooms" are getting smaller day-by-day as the floors and walls get thicker through growth. I'm also having trouble with ensuring structural integrity of any sizable structure. Getting enough branches (or anything else) to grow in exactly the right place to create weight-bearing support beams and pillars... maybe a master gardener could do it — but again, I'd need to see proof of a multi-level structure.

  • Keeping such a structure sealed (from the rain, the cold, etc.) would be a neat trick. You can create walls and ceilings/roofs from the perspective of the Pacific Island peoples: woven fronds, etc., but I'm having trouble imagining solid walls, floors, ceilings, etc.

  • I'm going to completely ignore plumbing and electricity. Pipes and chases... I can't see that at all.

  • Stairs are a problem. Yes, you could form a series of horizontal-ish ladder-ish branch constructs that you could call "stairs," but keeping the wood flat for convenient stepping and then hoping it never grows beyond that shape... As with complexity in general, with the passage of time your stairs eventually require a hatchet to keep them usable.

  • And then there's the issue of what you intend to do with the building. Fireplaces? Metallurgy? Manufacturing? The more weight, heat, and vibration you add to the mix the less likely this can actually be done. (Remember, I'm thinking multi-story solutions, not simply a one-story solution where the Earth is the "floor.")

So, not to rain too much on the parade, but while there's ample evidence suggesting the idea meets suspension-of-disbelief standards (as nearly 100 years of scifi/fantasy demonstrates), if you ask the question, "can it be done in real life?" the answer is "no, not to the expectations you set in your question."

But don't let that stop you. It didn't stop Tolkien, Simmons, or Cameron!

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you! You answered my question in detail. $\endgroup$
    – MinSin
    Commented Jun 28, 2020 at 17:04

Yes, it is Possible

Here are some examples:

enter image description here

from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tree_shaping

enter image description here

from: https://www.permaculture.co.uk/articles/artful-science-tree-shaping

I will try to copy-paste some words here, maybe it can help, since I am not knowledgeable about it myself.


Tree shaping uses living trees and other woody plants as the medium to create structures and art. There are a few different methods2 [...] such as pleaching, bonsai, espalier, and topiary, [...] Most artists use grafting to deliberately induce the inosculation of living trunks, branches, and roots, into artistic designs or functional structures.

Inosculation and Living Root Houses and Bridges

Some species of trees exhibit a botanical phenomenon known as inosculation (or self-grafting) [they] are called inosculate trees.3

The living root bridges of Cherrapunji, Laitkynsew, and Nongriat, in the present-day Meghalaya state of northeast India are examples of tree shaping. These suspension bridges are handmade from the aerial roots of living banyan fig trees, such as the rubber tree.4 The pliable tree roots are gradually shaped to grow across a gap, weaving in sticks, stones, and other inclusions, until they take root on the other side.4 This process can take up to fifteen years to complete.[5] There are specimens spanning over 100 feet, some can hold up to the weight of 50 people.[6][7] The useful lifespan of the bridges, once complete, is thought to be 500–600 years. They are naturally self-renewing and self-strengthening as the component roots grow thicker.[7][8]

Living trees were used to create garden houses in the Middle East, a practice which later spread to Europe. In Cobham, Kent there are accounts of a three-story house that could hold 50 people.[9]


Pleaching is a technique used in the very old horticultural practice of hedge laying. Pleaching consists of first plashing living branches and twigs and then weaving them together to promote their inosculation. [...] useful implementations include fences, lattices, roofs, and walls.[3][10] Some of the outcomes of pleaching can be considered an early form of what is known today as tree shaping.

In an early, labor-intensive, practical use of pleaching in medieval Europe, trees were installed in the ground in parallel hedgerow lines or quincunx patterns, then shaped by trimming to form a flat-plane grid above ground level. When the trees' branches in this grid met those of neighboring trees, they were grafted together. Once the network of joints were of substantial size, builders laid planks across the grid, upon which they built huts to live in, thus keeping the human settlement safe in times of annual flooding.3 Wooden dancing platforms were also built and the living tree branch grid bore the weight of the platform and dancers.[11] In late medieval European gardens through the 18th century, pleached allées, interwoven canopies of tree-lined garden avenues, were common.


There are various methods of shaping a tree.[2][12] Some of these processes are still experimental,[13]:154 whereas others are still in the research stage.[14] These methods use a variety of horticultural and arboricultural techniques to achieve an intended design. Chairs, tables, living spaces and art may be shaped from growing trees. [Some techniques used are unique to a particular practice, whereas other techniques are common to all].

These methods usually start with an idea of the intended outcome. Some practitioners start with detailed drawings[15]:7 or designs.[16] Other artists start with what the tree already has.[17] :56–57 Each process has its own time frame and a different level of involvement from the tree shaper. The trees might then either remain growing, as with the living Pooktre garden chair, or perhaps be harvested as a finished work, like John Krubsack's chair.


In 1957, F. W. Went described "the process of growing plants with air-suspended roots and applying a nutrient mist to the root section", and in it he coined the word 'aeroponics' to describe that process. In 2008, root researcher and craftsman Ezekiel Golan described and secured a patent for a process which allows the roots of some aeroponically grown woody plants to lengthen and thicken while still remaining flexible. At lengths of perhaps 6 metres (20 ft) or more, the soft roots can be formed into pre-determined shapes which will continue thickening after the shapes are formed and as they continue to grow.[12][21] Newer techniques and applications, such as eco-architecture, may allow architects to design, grow, and form large permanent structures, such as homes, by shaping aeroponically grown plants and their roots.[14]

Instant Tree Shaping

Instant tree shaping[12][22] starts with mature trees,[23] :53 perhaps 6–12 ft. (2–3.6 m) long[13]:196 and 3-4in (7.6–10 cm) in trunk diameter,[13]:172 which are bent and woven into the desired design [23] :53 and held until cast.[24][25] Understanding a tree's fluid dynamics is important to achieving the desired result.[2][17]:69

Bending is sometimes used to achieve a design.[17] If a plant's tissue is bent at too sharp an angle it may break, which can be mostly avoided by un-localizing the bend. This is achieved by making small bends along the curve of the tree. Bends are then held in place for several years until their form is permanently cast.[17]:80 The tree's rate of growth determines the time necessary to overcome its resistance to the initial bending.[13]:178 The work of bending and securing in this way might be accomplished in an hour or perhaps in an afternoon depending on the design.[22]

Ring barking is sometimes employed to help balance a design by slowing the growth of too-vigorous branches or stopping the growth of inopportunely placed branches, using different degrees of ring barking, from simple scoring to complete removal of a 3/8"-wide (1 cm) band of bark.[17]:57, 69

Creasing is folding trees such as willow and poplar over upon themselves, creating a right angle. This method is more radical than bending.[13]:80

With this method it is possible to perform initial bending and grafting on a project in an hour, as with Peace in Cherry by Richard Reames,[13]:193[17]:56–57 removing supports in as little as a year and following up with minimal pruning thereafter.[26]

Gradual tree shaping

Gradual tree shaping starts with designing and framing.[22][27][28][29] These are fundamental to the success of the piece.[28][29] Once these are set up, young seedlings or saplings[15]:4 3–12 in. (7.6–30.5 cm) long[28][29] are planted.

The training starts with young seedlings, saplings or the stems of trees when they are very young,[15] :4 which are gradually shaped while the tree is growing to form the desired shape.[9] There is a small area just behind the growing tip that forms the final shape.[27][30] The shaping zone,[27][30] it is the shaping of this area requires day to day or weekly guiding of the new growth. The growth is guided along predetermined design pathways;[23] this may be a wooden jig [9] or complex wire design.[16]

With this method the time frame is longer than the other methods. A chair design might take 8 to 10 years to reach maturity[23][31] Some of Axel Erlandson trees's took as long as 40 years to assume their finished shapes.[32]

Framing may be used for various purposes and might consist of any one or a combination of several materials, such as timber, steel, hollowed out trees,[6] complex wire designs,[16] wooden jigs,[9] or the tree itself, living [13]:178 or dead.[33]:58 It can be used in many project designs to support grafted joints until the grafts are well-established. Some processes might employ framing to hold a shape created by bending or fletching mature trees until the tissues have overcome their resistance to the initial bending and grown enough annual rings to cast the design permanently.[13] Others might use framing to support and shape the growth of young saplings [23][30][34] until they are strong enough to maintain an intended shape without support.[30] Still other approaches might employ frames to guide the roots of aeroponically grown trees into desired shapes.


Grafting is a commonly employed technique that exploits the natural biological process of inosculation. A branch or plant is cut and a piece of another plant is added and held in place. Various types of grafting all share the goal of encouraging the tissues of one plant to fuse with those of another.

Grafting is applied to create permanent connections and joints.[23] In some cases, trees are grafted while they are growing, [35] while in other cases, mature trees may be intertwined and the stems of two or more trees are then grafted together to create chairs, ladders, and other fanciful sculptures.[36]


Pruning can be used to balance a design by controlling and directing growth into a desired shape.[30][33]:70 [34] Pruning above a leaf node can steer plant growth in the direction of the natural placement of that leaf bud.[13] Pruning may also be used to keep a design free of unwanted branches and to reduce canopy size.[30][34] Pruning is sometimes the only technique used to craft a project.

Trees repeatedly subjected to hard pruning may experience stunted growth, and some trees may not survive this treatment.

Using time as part of the construction is intrinsical to achieving this art form.


Living grown structures have a number of structural mechanical advantages over those constructed of lumber[citation needed] and are more resistant to decay. While there are some decay organisms that can rot live wood from the outside, and though living trees can carry decayed and decaying heartwood inside them; in general, living trees decay from the inside out and dead wood decays from the outside in.[38] Living wood tissue, particularly sapwood, wields a very potent defense against decay from either direction, known as compartmentalization. This protection applies to living trees only and varies among species.

Growing structures is not as easy as it would seem.[39] Quick growing willows have been used to grow building structures, they provide support or protection.[39] A young group of German architects are in the process of such a structure and they are continually monitored and checked.[39] Once the trees are of age to be able to take on load-bearing weight they are tested for stability and strength by a structural engineer.[39] Once this is approved the supporting framework is removed.[39] Projects are limited to the trees' weight loading ability and growth.[39] This is being studied and the load capacity will be proved by testing on prototypes.[40]


here several image for house enter image description here

from: http://facebook-tweet.blogspot.com/2011/04/fascinating-living-growing-architecture.html

enter image description here

from: https://imgur.com/gallery/ouAUx/comment/1299310169

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    $\begingroup$ That's probably too many words to copy and paste. Can you cut that down? $\endgroup$
    – wizzwizz4
    Commented Jun 27, 2020 at 22:36
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    $\begingroup$ fab tree habs are an attempt to implement this by growing houses in a sped up version of this. designboom.com/architecture/… $\endgroup$
    – John
    Commented Jun 28, 2020 at 3:05
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    $\begingroup$ Great answer! Organized the quotes into a few sections, and removed some of the extraneous information. $\endgroup$
    – Enthu5ed
    Commented Sep 15, 2020 at 14:29
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    $\begingroup$ @Enthus3d thanks for the edit. :) $\endgroup$
    – Li Jun
    Commented Sep 15, 2020 at 16:12
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    $\begingroup$ @LiJun No problem :P $\endgroup$
    – Enthu5ed
    Commented Sep 15, 2020 at 16:13

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