The Root of The Solution
March 22, 2012 2 Comments
Bridge building is an arduous endeavor, one which takes a toll on both people and our planet. Electricity is used, pollutants are emitted and bodies are broken down by manual labor. But what if a bridge could be grown? What if a bridge could breath?
The intrepid denizens of Cherrapunji, India – the wettest place on the planet – have transmuted this absurd hypothetical into a very real, very sustainable solution, to an age old problem. For centuries the War-Khasis tribe has been dealing with monsoon rains so strong and so incessant, that the local rivers rage and rise well above their banks for much of the year. The power of nature simply puts any man-made bridge in a precarious position. It seems an insurmountable problem, but the root of the solution is at the base of the Ficus Elastica tree.
As their village was decimated by flood waters, the Khasis began to realize that the Ficus Elastica’s resilient roots remained unaffected and seemed to grow over, around and through any obstruction. Soon after, they discovered that by relying on the roots’ remarkable malleability, they could divert them for their own purposes. Utilizing the trunks of Betel Nut trees the Khasis directed the roots across the river and let nature create a living bridge. Growing a bridge takes several years but the result is viable architecture that can last several centuries. Root bridges take advantage of the tree’s natural adaptation to withstand the strength of flooding rivers and remain long after the people who build them. They are a beautiful and awe inspiring gift that will sustain generations. -Adam P
This is a re-blog from contributor Adam Poltrak