Carlo Ratti Designs a Cycling Route Supported by Trees to Explore Sustainable Mobility | The Tree Path

Ideating around the fine convergence between the natural and the artificial, where trees are used as a fundamental element of construction, design and innovation studio CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati and non-profit organization GAL Terre del Po in close collaboration with the Office for Living Architecture (OLA) are in plans to create an elevated route for pedestrians and cyclists that will be supported by more than a thousand trees. Know more about the project on SURFACES REPORTER (SR).

The Tree Path will be elevated from the ground bicycle route that will run in-between trees by resting on two parallel rows of plants that will act as pillars.

The Tree Path will be elevated from the ground bicycle route that will run in-between trees by resting on two parallel rows of plants that will act as pillars. Located in the Italian countryside, this sensor-augmented pathway will lead to Sabbioneta, which is one of the country’s UNESCO World Heritage sites in the north. Vertically unfolding on three different levels, the project will be 6 m above the ground and bypass road traffic and waterways. The path explores sustainable mobility as it blends the natural and artificial where people can walk or cycle. The lifted platform amidst the treetops will have sensors embedded within to track the environmental conditions in real-time. For this, CRA collaborated with one of the world’s leading experts in the Baubotanik technique, OLA that elucidated the concept of trees being used as an ever-evolving architectural element. Nearly a thousand trees will be planted for The Tree Path project. The growth of these trees around stainless steel handrail will be the focal element of the design process. The growing plants will thus build and transform the path structure over years.

Vertically unfolding on three different levels, the project will be 6 m above the ground and bypass road traffic and waterways.

Incorporated with digital sensors which will measure the factors in the atmosphere including air pollution, health, and growth of trees, the pathway will be integrated with an artificial intelligence system provided by the Mindicity Urban Intelligence platform. The digital sensors will further ensure all living beings in and around the vicinity can respond to the changing environmental conditions or structural loads. Elaborating his idea, Carlo Ratti, Founding Partner, CRA, and Director of the Senseable City Lab, MIT says, “We can use trees as elements of construction, and leverage the data from digital technologies to get a better understanding of the surrounding environment.”

Upon completion, the Tree Path will be connecting the 700 km long VENTO Cycle Route that runs parallel to the Po River across north Italy with Sabbioneta.

Upon completion, the Tree Path will be connecting the 700 km long VENTO Cycle Route that runs parallel to the Po River across north Italy with Sabbioneta, through the neighbouring town of Casalmaggiore.

Project details

Client: GAL Terre del Po

Creative lead: Italo Rota

Baubotanik consultant: OLA - Office for Living Architecture

Tech consultant: Mindicity S.r.l. S.B. – Urban Intelligence platform

CRA team: Carlo Ratti, Andrea Cassi (Partner in Charge), Alberto Benetti and Gizem Veral

Renderings: CRA graphic team including Gary di Silvio, Pasquale Milieri and Gianluca Zimbardi

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