Geoff McCabe

Living Structures Project

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Living Dome Concept Sketch

Living Dome concept sketch, made from grafted trees.

Ever since I moved to Costa Rica and learned that with many tree species, you can cut off a branch, stick it in the ground, and it will grow into a new tree, I had the idea to try this here with some of the popular local trees, such as Melina or Madera Negro, both of which are great for repelling bugs without using poisons.

The basic idea is to plant a bunch of branches from the same tree and let them grow, bending and manipulating them in the direction desired, and then SPLICING them together when they meet. Because they are from the same mother tree, they will hopefully grow together easily and become a single, solid structure.

A few years ago, a young inventor came up with a similar idea and actually did it, getting a lot of press for it. I haven’t had the time to do the research yet to see if anyone has used my splicing idea, or whether they’re just weaving the houses together out of same-species trees, but regardless, it’s a cool idea that I hope to test out here in Montezuma soon.

Living Dome Project

The basic idea of this is to plant the seedlings in a circle and let them grow, always keeping them arced towards the center, where they will eventually meet and be merged into one. The structure would probably be most beautiful as a pointy dome, and the trees, when merged together, could then form a single trunk, or could even be designed to wrap around each other.

The branches could be manipulated to stay in a dome-shape, and where they meet, grafted together, eventually creating a beautiful geodesic-dome type structure, but with an irregular geometry.

Such a structure should be extremely strong and resistant to earthquakes, and would also make an excellent bug-repelling shade structure for growing plants, meditation, yoga, etc, if the “Madera Negro” species is used.

Living Home Project

The obvious problem with a living home is how to keep out water during storms.

The solution I imagine is to use a series of tarps, tied in such a way so that they overlap inside, and the rainwater runs off and out of the living space. So it could be something like a tee pee.