A building doesn’t have to be a dry and dead thing. Italian artist Giuliano Mauri’s epic Cattedrale Vegetale (or Tree Cathedral) is the perfect example of architecture that, instead of competing with or complementing nature, is quite literally a part of it. The late artist’s two groves of trees are destined to grow into a pair of magnificent basilicas.

The framework columns seen in these photos will eventually rot away and decay, to be replaced by the hornbeam trees planted in the center of each frame. As these grow, their canopies will mesh together to form the vaulted ceiling of a Gothic cathedral.

Mauri, who passed in 2009, laid the groundwork for his first visionary cathedral in Valsugana, Italy in 2002. The framework of the cathedral at the foot of Mount Arera in the northern Italian region of Lombardy was completed in 2010.

More info: giulianomauri.com (h/t: mymodernmet, BBC)

Image credits:  Virtual Sacred Space

Image credits: Michele Salmaso

Image credits: Aldo Fedele (left) | Arte Sella (right)

Image credits: Pava

Image credits: Arte Sella

Image credits: Ettore Galata Rizzardini

Image credits: Pava

Image credits: Giacomo Bianchi

Image credits: Riccardo Senia

Image credits: Pierangelo Zavatarelli

Image credits: Marco Rosato

Image credits: santino

Image credits: Il Giardino Sfumato