modern ruin: steel house tree

Ahmedabad area, Gujarat 2013

Proposed for a local artist, this pavilion needs to work as a shelter just for twenty years, while it stakes out a piece of land. 

We took the opportunity to consider the life and longevity of a building, its nature as a shelter, and the possibility for life after loss of function, growing as a ruin back into the land it was built to demarcate. One of our long running concerns has been with the nature of the building after we as architects leave it, after the client leaves it, and even after people leave it. Toward this end we have observed the particularly aggressive occupation of the banyan tree into some ancient and other more recent structures. Often born out of bird droppings full of banyan seeds, the tree will grow out of a crack in a stone to eventually envelop the entire structure, ultimately devouring it with an excess of aerial roots that pry open joints and push through mortar, brick and earth.

With such a short lifespan, we thought, why not design a structure that invites the banyan roots to grow? By placing the tree on the rooftop of a lightweight steel structure, we create the first impulse for the direction of growth: the roots want to reach the ground. Second, we create a hierarchy of materials based on their relative strength, and organize them so that the roots will grow out across the platform roof, with soft bela stone that channels them toward the edge, and then frees them to follow gravity straight down, while a tripod structure holds the simple truss that creates the space under the roof. All the elements beneath are tucked slightly back, so they sit out of the reach of the groping least until the rust begins to eat through the steel decking and the roots find new paths to the earth...