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This Majestic Cathedral is Alive and Breathing

Sep 03, 2016 08:00 AM EDT

A cathedral in Italy is made of living, breathing trees.

The Cattedrale Vegetale (Tree Cathedral), which is located in Bergamo, Italy, makes use of trees and branches to form its structure at a secluded hillside at the foot of Pizzo Arera. The church columns are made of 600 weaved branches of chestnut and hazel trees and about 1,800 fir tree poles. The branches curve at the top of the poles to form arches.

According to BBC, a single beech tree has been planted in each column, which will grow into the shape that the column guides it into. After many years, the trees will eventually outgrow the structure to create a natural wall and roof for the cathedral, like a vaulted ceiling of a Gothic cathedral.

The frame of the 650-sqm cathedral was completed in 2010 as part of the United Nations' International Year of Biodiversity. But since the beech trees will take decades to fully mature, the cathedral will continue to evolve.

"I was moved by the idea of putting myself in relation with the natural cyclus, not offending it, not interfering with it," Guiliano Mauri, an Italian artist and architect whose concept spawned the Cattedrale Vegetale, said on the cathedral's website.

Mauri, who passed in 2009, designed the original concept for the Tree Cathedral. He built the first structure made of hornbeam trees in Val Sella, Malga Costa, Italy in 2001 as part of the Arte Sella, an exhibit that showcased environmental and natural art. This structure is the second of its kind in Italy, which was designed by Mauri's son, continuing the artistic tradition.

While Italy is home to several majestic cathedrals, the Cattedrale Vegetale is different as it is still living and will continue to grow even after forming the walls and the ceilings of the cathedral.

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