The Patient Gardener by Visiondivision

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The Patient Gardener by Visiondivision

A circle of trees will frame an hourglass-shaped hut for Milan that won’t be complete for 100 years.

The Patient Gardener by Visiondivision

Swedish architects Visiondivision and a group of students designed the two-storey study retreat, which is currently growing on the Politecnico di Milano campus.

The Patient Gardener by Visiondivision

Aptly titled The Patient Gardener, the garden structure will be shaped from a circle of ten Japanese cherry trees that will be bent, pruned and woven as they grow.

The Patient Gardener by Visiondivision

The trees will be tied to a central wooden scaffold to frame the dome-shaped ground floor, whilst branches above will be directed outwards as first-floor walls.

The Patient Gardener by Visiondivision

Two of the trees will be woven together as a staircase.

The Patient Gardener by Visiondivision

Plum tree stumps will provide chairs and an armchair will be fabricated from cardboard and grass.

The Patient Gardener by Visiondivision

Visiondivision previously designed another landscape project, this time an underwater concrete habitat for crayfish - see this project here.

The Patient Gardener by Visiondivision

Here's a description of the project from Visiondivision:


Visiondivision was invited as guest professors by Politecnico di Milano for their week-long workshop MIAW2.

The workshop, playing with the metaphor of forests, aimed to generate new visions to explain the contemporary and immediate future ways of being in the spirit of green design, resilience, recycling, and ethical consciousness.

Our intention with our project was to construct a study retreat at the campus with patience as the main key for the design. If we can be patient with the building time we can reduce the need for transportation, waste of material and different manufacturing processes, simply by helping nature grow in a more architectonic and useful way. The final result can be enjoyed at Politecnico di Milano in about 60 years from now.

During the workshop we gave nature all the guidance and directions to help it grow into useful structures and objects. There are different methods and tools to guide and control the growth of trees and plants; bending, twisting, pruning, grafting, braiding, weaving and to control the amount of water and light the trees get are just some examples of these. We used almost all of these techniques in our creation, which involved creating a structural system for the building and also stairs and furniture, all made out of trees, plants or grass.

Our structural frame for this project became ten Japanese cherry trees that was planted in a circle with a diameter of eight meters with a six meter high temporary wood structure in the center that is acting as a guidance tower for the growing structure. The trees were planted with an equal spacing from each other, except for four of them that became two pairs of stairs to the future upper level.

The cherry trees were ideal to plant at that time of year and also had great features for achieving the desired structure. Thin ropes were tied around the plants and were slightly bent towards the temporary tower.

As time passes the trees will form a dome when they reach the tower, and then designated by to change its direction so the final form will be an hourglass, a suiting shape for the project and also a very practical form as we now have two rooms with different modes in the building.

The small branches on the plants that will grow into stairs are guided with wires to each other and will hopefully be useful later on. The rest of the stairs can later be grafted in the stair trees.

On the ground level we designed furniture out of grass, trees and plants. There are a dining group consisting of a table with four chairs. The chairs are plum trees where one sit at the lowest fork and the branches are guided into canopies so the future visitor can sit in the chair while at the same time eating delicious fruits. The table is made out of slender wooden pieces with strings in the structure, which forms a skeleton where hedras can grow and later take over the structure completely. A comfortable chair made out of grass are located on the other side of the ground floor. The grass chair is put together with the use of a custom made cardboard structure, shaped for maximal relaxation and that is painted with a protection coating and that is later filled with soil on site and draped with grass.

A grass puff is also made and placed in the tower where the floor of the upper level will be. The puff is a big potato bag filled with straw, soil, fertilizer and grass seed. An organic rope is placed with a third of its length inside the bag, and the bag is later sewn together. The rest of the rope is placed in water so the puff gets water and will later be covered in grass, so when the trees finally reaches this level and becomes the floor, it will already be furnished.

Together with the students we worked out a maintenance plan and instructions to future gardeners that is simple enough to actually work. On the structure, we instructed that a pattern of wood will be grafted in, leaving two spaces between the trees as entries/exits and the rest is closed in ornamental patterns with branches. On the upper level which is reached by the two staircases with exquisite handrails, is different fruit trees grafted into the cherry trees so the visitor can have a variety of fruits while relaxing in the canopy. Branches are also grafted in for security reasons between the tree trunks.

In about 80 years from now the Politecnico di Milano campus will have a fully grown building and the students will hopefully have proud grandchildren that can tell the story of the project for their friends and family.

Partners in charge: Anders Berensson & Ulf Mejergren
Curators: Laura Daglio & Oscar Bellini
Students/Architects/Builders: Rachele Albini, Giada Albonico, Jacopo Biasio, Sara Caramaschi, Elisa Carraro, Desislava Dimitrova, Cristina Gatti, Elisa Gulino, Mariya Hasamova, Nina Mikhailova, Ottavia Molatore, Joao Molinar, Azadeh Moradiasr, Mohyedin Navabzadeh Navabi, Giuseppe Maria Palermo, Riccardo Somaini, Bogdan Stojanovic
Organizers: Luca Maria Francesco Fabris & Efisia Cipolloni
Location: Politecnico di Milano
Project area: 50 sqm
Project year: 2011-2090

  • mmmmmh

    that is so stupid. go to Potager du Roi in Versailles they've been working on this for the last 500 years with no intellectualism involved

    • amsam

      Reworking an old concept while thinking about it carefully is a perfectly good project. And when did "intellectual" become a bad thing? I bet if you wandered around le Potager 500 years ago, telling its creators they weren't "intellectuals", you would have gotten yourself a French knuckle sandwich.

      • xtiaan

        actually lol'd at that mental image!

    • uggy

      are you french?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000531252430 Chris Soesilo

    beautiful tree and flowers…

  • RoniqueG

    This is so creative! I love it because it reminds me of being a little kid and wanting to find a real 'Jack in the beanstalk!' Great use of nature to conform to humans need for shelter and a relaxing area, but also keep in mind the beauty of the plant. Hope to see it complete in 100 years! :) ha!

  • http://www.greenteadesign.com/thedesigntree Nathalie

    This is incredibly gorgeous, a sculpture made through time and patience. Wow. Amazing.

  • http://www.rjcjh.co.uk rjc

    gorgeous idea +

  • pnark

    Are we back in the rococo years now?

  • alex

    beautiful everything… ideas, visualisations, artwork. I don't think the built sculpture could ever be as attractive as these drawings.

  • http://dailygrail.com/ Red Pill Junkie

    The idea is pretty cool, and It is definitely a noble goal, but I fear that with the fast-paced volatile nature of modern cities, expecting a garden to last a century might be nothing but wishful thinking.

    But I still like the concept. It draw us back to the age of the great cathedrals, when the builders devoted their lives to something they would never see completed.

  • nomad

    a lot of haters on here. but i find this project interesting in an age where construction is shoddy and rushed. its great to see the process purposely slowed down and as a result nature becomes material becomes structure becomes object. reminds me of a lot of gardens of past monarchs in europe.

  • zha

    The idea is not new. Been done a few times, great visuals though

  • http://usingamericanenglish.com English Atlanta

    This is a very good concept and I find it very artistic and creative. It is good they really stood with how they are described as Visiondivision. It is worth a shot and I hope they will be able to make it. Looking forward to it!

  • George

    very peacefull way of designing.

  • http://edarthur.co.uk EdA

    Beautiful. I think it's fantastic that, in this day and age, someone hasn't rushed or mass produced something or done it on the cheap, and that it will take a long time for this to develop, like a gift to an upcoming generation. Working with and understanding nature and its processes, instead of covering it with concrete, is a welcome step in another direction.

  • http://www.facebook.com/edarthur85 Ed Arthur

    Beautiful. To think that something like this could be created in this day and age, which isn't rushed, mass produced or done on the cheap, is fantastic and a breath of fresh air. I can only imagine what wonders we might be living in now if people in the past had spent 100 years crafting them.

    Understanding and working with nature instead of covering it with concrete is a welcome step in another direction. This is similar to what the Japanese did in their ancient gardens, such as those in Kyoto, and it is a lovely little legacy to leave a future generation. Hopefully we'll see more in the future!

  • Julija

    TO Ed Arthur

    I'm sorry, but this illustrates nothing than ignorance to the nature. Why can't we enjoy nature's perfection in its naturals way?

  • Greenish

    Wow, how beautiful. What a lovely gift to future folk.

  • http://uptodayarch.blogspot.cpm up_today_arch

    beautiful? no more beautiful than feet of ancient Chinese girls in small tight shoes… violence of nature.

    • Jay

      Uh, Chinese foot binding is considered cruel because of the pain the girls must endure. Last time I checked trees have no nervous system. Do you really think the trees mind?

      • zee

        great subject which brings great questions:

        - if there is no pain involved, do you you think monstrosity stops existing?
        - trees have life. when wounded in their flesh, they start developping reactions (cysts, scars, etc.). when being forced into a position, they react the best they can to compensate for imbalance, disorientation vs sunlight, etc.

        Personally I find this project cartoon-cute (amazing drawings), very inviting to the imagination, but nonetheless producing a monster.

      • Nino

        trees and plants are phototropic, which means they grow towards light. If this system forces one of the trees to grow away from the light then it can be seen as detrimental

  • http://www.granitetransformations.com/blog Alex Levin

    very cool. chair's look exactly like Pooktre's http://pooktre.com/images/index/pete_in_garden_ch… . can you trademark a tree sculpture? :)

  • Astonished

    Kind of plant Mengele…

  • elto

    There are two types of different perception toward this idea, "that's egoism of human being" or "that's collaboration with nature".

  • ceemet

    like to think this is "collaboration with nature", but similar "sculptures" made by nature are more exiting, in my opinion. look for banyan tree.. i.e. http://www.amusingplanet.com/2011/02/great-banyan
    it's amazing how one tree can make such beautiful spaces.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=26712718 Luke Laverty

    it's a selfless design that they cannot see finished in their lifetime. only if all architects thought this way…

    • Nino

      so youre suggesting we should build architecture that no one will benefit from for 100 years??

      • xtiaan

        no, I think he was bemoaning the terrible lack of foresight shown by many architects today.
        And hey these are trees, you benefit from them as soon as they are in the ground.

  • xtiaan

    I hate the way in every single round of comments theres always a bunch of "ITS BEEN DONE"s.

    C'mon ppl its a post-postmodern world we live in, we decided in the 80's that EVERYTHING has been done, quarter of a century ago. Your "its been done"s have infact already been done…

  • greeny

    Poor tortured trees; they always get the short straw