Here's one to watch: the MIT Media Lab's Smart Cities Group is behind an idea to design houses from living ecosystems. The key names behind the project are leader Mitchell Joachim, ecological engineer Lara Greden and architect Javier Arbona.
The idea is not unique to MIT, as others such as Richard Reames have been playing with treeforming as a means to produce structures useful for human lifestyles. But the activity of a respected leader like MIT furthers the potential for the devlopment of ideas which can break out of the inspiration category into reality.
One major obstacle: to get a living treehouse to raise your budding family in, your own parents would have to contract the "building" at your own birth. Is our mobile, increasingly less family oriented society ready for this step? An alternative vision: instead of developing "mushroom colonies" of identical homes squeezed in to optimize profitability for developers, treehouse communities could be built up and ready to buy into when your savings are ready for the big commitment. Again: what developer is ready to invest today for payback in 30 years?
Nonetheless, we are excited! The little kid in us can't wait to move into the treehouse! And ideas like this will push the limits on materials: windows that can grow with a house, biological filtering systems to provide our clean water supplies...the imagination is the limit. For more details, see Discovery News.