Giuliano Mauri was a unique artist. An advocate of natural architecture, he constructed large-scale outdoor works of environmental art. Because he used organic materials, these structures were temporary. He loved outdoor spaces, where he came up with the concept of living cathedrals, using trees for the walls and roofs.
Although he planned and developed many sites, the Tree Cathedral near the northern Italian city of Bergamo is a posthumus memorial to him. The work was completed by a skilled team led by Mauri's son, Robert, under the artistic direction of Paola Tognon. It was built in a quiet glade surrounded by tall trees.
It consists of 42 columns that form a basilica with five aisles. Poles of fir and 600 branches from chestnut trees and 66,000 meters of hazel branches were woven together with string and nails, forming a support structure for 42 beech trees that were planted. As the beech trees grow, they will form natural columns. As the support structure deteriorates, the trees will have grown to replace it.
The Cathedral covers 650 square meters, and is more than 90 feet long, 80 feet wide, and ranges in height from 16 to 70 feet. Once the beeches overtake the structure, it will be open and passable in many directions. The Cathedral was inaugurated on September 6, 2010. It is a tribute to Bergamo's observance to the International Year of Biodiversity, as well as a tribute to Mauri.
Mauri was born in 1938 in Lodi Vecchio. By the end of the 60s he became involved with avant garde art movements in Italy. By the 70s he was doing performance art, showing his video and photographic performances in various galleries. In 1976 he participated in the Venice Biennale, in 1992 the Milan Triennale, and in 1994 the Biennale di Penne. He died in 2009 at the age of 71.
There are plans to use the Cathedral as a natural backdrop for various events, as well as a resting place for local educational and training sessions. Now this is my idea of a cathedral!
Images courtesy of Arte Sella.