Tree of Life – Largest Tree in the World
Feature elements of this magnificent tree include synthetic epiphytes such as elk horns, mosses, ferns and bracket fungi. A variety of large and small-sized vines envelop the tree trunk and at the base of the tree is a large buttress roots.
The Tree as a Host
No tree stands alone: it is part of a complex ecosystem – home, dining room and resting place for hundreds of other species of plants and animals. The hospitality offered by trees is nowhere more generous than in a cloud forest, dampened almost permanently by a low cloud or mist – like that of the Monteverdi National Park in Costa Rica – where every branch of a single tree may be caked with thousands of other plants, such as lichens, mosses, bromeliads, ferns, vines, creepers, lianas and orchids.
Most of these are epiphytes: they use the tree as a perch only, but do not feed off it and harm it, as a parasitic plant would. Their roots take moisture from the air and find nutrients in debris in cracks in the bark. Nonetheless, these quests may not always be welcome. The sheer weight and density of the plants on a tree may well hinder its growth and affect its ability to compete for light.
Bromeliads create tiny worlds of their own high in the upper branches of cloud forest trees. The rosettes and some bromeliads trap water, creating miniature pools which attract a huge variety of creatures – insects, birds, snakes, tree-climbing crabs, monkeys and a host of small mammals which come to drink and feed here.
Dragonflies and mosquitoes may lay their eggs in rosettes. Some species of poison frogs give birth to their young on the forest floor. When the young reach tadpole stage, one or two rides on the father or mothers back then the parent will climb the high tree and deposit the tadpoles in a pool of water in a selected rosette – to act as a miniature nursery until the tadpoles mature.
Various stages of the project
- Design and engineer primary and secondary steel structure to support the overall loading of branches and leaf. This is designed with internal ladder access
- Prefabricate off-site the primary steel frame to surround the central building column
- Erect the primary steel frame on-site using full scaffolding at 2.5-metre intervals. Scaffolding stays in place until the completion of
- The outer structure of the tree trunk is welded on site in 10 mm mild steel bar to accurately copy the model. The major ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ branches are also welded as a frame in 10 mm steel bar. Galvanized steel pipe of 75 mm & 50 mm diameter is welded into the ends of the secondary ‘branches’ of steel. These pipes later allow hardwood timber preserved and treated branches to be inserted and bolted into place.
- The overall shape of the final tree can now be evaluated by the client for approval. These hardwood branches are suitable for later attachment of plastic artificial tree branches and artificial leaf.
- A layer of ‘perforated’ (full of small holes) silver insulation paper (fire rated) is stapled to the 10 mm bar. This gives the client an even better idea of what the tree looks like.
- A high quality fully fire rated polyurethane foam is then sprayed over the entire silver paper to an average depth of 15 mm – 340 mm. The material is sprayed thicker were required.
- A layer of foam is also sprayed over the inside of the tree which bonds the outer layer to the internal steel
- The bottom 10 metres of the tree is now sprayed with glass-fibre reinforced cement. While wet this 8 mm – 10 mm thick layer is textured with latex texture mats moulded directly off a strangler fig. This stamps the bark pattern into a very strong outer surface of fibreglass reinforced cement which is both fire and vandal proof. The sprayed polyurethane foam above 10 metres once painted produces a very believable surface.