While traveling the world, Barry Cox fell in love with architecture, particularly the design and construction of churches. This fascination inspired him to design a cathedral of his own, except he decided to compose the house of worship entirely out of lush trees. To make this dream a reality, Cox dedicated four years of his life to growing this rare church in his backyard in New Zealand.
“I walked out my back door one day and thought, ‘That space needs a church,'” the tree architect told Stuff. “And so it began. I cleared the area in April 2011 and made the iron frame, drawing on all the research I had done over the years of studying churches. I wanted the roof and the walls to be distinctly different, to highlight the proportions, just like masonry churches.”
Using his Treelocations business, which transports living trees using a mechanical tree spade, Cox relocated specific saplings onto his property. Cut-leaf alder was the species chosen for the roof, since it is both flexible and sparse. This sparseness was an important factor because it’s what allows sunlight to stream into the church, providing guests with an enchanting natural light source.
For the walls, the creative gardener/architect utilized Copper Sheen trees because their sturdiness and resemblance to the color of stone. In addition, a Dublin Bay rose plant wove its way to the top, adding a touch of romantic color to the one-of-a-kind chapel. In order to keep these tree walls looking like actual walls, Cox continues to trim his church every six weeks.
After four years spent growing his trees to form a breathtaking church, the designer decided to open up his private retreat to the public. Now, everyone has the opportunity to witness this rare form of beauty that harmoniously combines architecture and nature. When taking in the entire structure, as a whole, one can see that it is not only a place of worship, it is also a place where one can marvel at the strength and allure of Mother Nature.
Photography by Sally Tag