I would like to make something interesting about a culture of mine in one of my story proposals. I was thinking something along the lines of using living tissue for construction. Hard hides would comprise the walls, and (for example, cornea tissue would be used as windows.

I am assuming near-future tech, as in the 2200 - 2300 range.


  1. Would I need to feed the tissue?
  2. How can I have living tissue without making it part of a fully established organism? I don't want to have my buildings with brain tissue and entrails everywhere.
  3. Is there any way to avoid needing arteries and veins?
  4. Will I need pumps to insure that the building stays in 'homeostasis'?
  5. Organism should have no mouth, absorb nutrients through some sort of osmosis (sugar water).

Is it possible for me to construct buildings of considerable proportions from living tissue?

(Tissue can be grown in 'sheets', and hauled over to the building site for construction. Consider project a failure if the living tissue dies.)

Edit: Specifically, I am looking for animal tissue, not plant (although it may be easier, I would prefer something more exotic.)

  • $\begingroup$ You're looking to push the limits of the line between living tissue and construction materials. Are you ready to push the limits of what it means for tissue to be "living?" The definition of "living" is more complicated than we oft give it credit. $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon Jan 28 '16 at 18:38
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    $\begingroup$ Also, what are you looking to accomplish with your living tissue house? What characteristics of life do you wish your house to have? Alternatively, if you don't actually want anything that living tissue is good at, what were the reasons for its use? $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon Jan 28 '16 at 18:39

Why go for animal tissue, when the plant tissues can more easily be adapted? Advantages are that trees can pretty much feed themselves, they build their own foundations, insulation and all the like by default.

Less Genejacking required that way, and probably lower energy costs (since you don't have to feed your house 20 gallons of chicken soup every 5 hours)...

As to the considerable proportions, just think about the redwood forests - i think anyone can agree those are rather considerable proportions.


Same as trees, such buildings may just be covered by the living tissue. That we call "wood" in the tree is actually a dead tissue. A thin layer under the cork is responsible for growing both cork and wood material inside. The amount of living material can be small in comparison to the dead already material, and the dead material needs feeding no more then wooden parts of the human build house.

The only task the dead tissue must be capable of is to transport water up from the ground. Leaves evaporate lots of water, and leaves are required for feeding the living part (roots are also required for sure).

Such building can develop from the seed, grow larger as needed, heal damages - probably all features you need from the living building for your story.


Imagine a kind of tree that grows multiple trunks, or a stout vine. Train it in the shape of a house.

Wood is living structural material for the organism.

  • $\begingroup$ But I don't think wood is classified as "tissue". Plus, wood can't be grown in sheets, or described as hide. $\endgroup$ – Xandar The Zenon Jan 28 '16 at 19:06
  • $\begingroup$ @XandarTheZenon Tree xylem is considered a tissue by arborists. (this is part of why I have the comment asking for clarification on what characteristics the OP wants) $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon Jan 28 '16 at 19:10
  • $\begingroup$ All right, I didn't know that. I guess trees have tissue. Still, it's not hide. $\endgroup$ – Xandar The Zenon Jan 28 '16 at 19:46

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