Self-growing mycelium architecture, big scale


#1

Hello everyone,

I’m a masterstudent of Architecture and I’m doing a project about self-growing architecture.
It is a concept where we let nature decide the architectural shapes of the future. We are now working on a case to let mycelium grow big structural elements. With this project we want to attract more attention of people, designers, architects and let them see the positive qualities of mycelium. We are already trying things, but had some questions (mostly our teachers :wink: ) about certain technical elements and hoped that someone could help us with this. Thanks in advance!! :hugs: :hugs: :hugs:

Questions:

  1. Because we are working on a big scale the baking proces could cause some problems. We were wondering if the baking of mycelium is really necessary?
    Would it cause problems (for people when they touch it, buildings, nature or other organisms,…) when we would not bake the mycelium? what are the pro’s and con’s?
    Does the baking of mycelium have effects on the biodegradability of the mycelium structures? :thinking:

  2. Lets say: I have fully grown my mycelium structures and I would put them in my garden. Would this mycelium construction attract other organisms like insects, bacteria, animals,… ? Is there a difference in this topic when it would be (un)baked?

  3. Lets say we would cover our structures with a certain type of mycelium leather and it starts raining, hailing,… would this damage or effect the mycelium leather? So yes, could we take some precautionary measures to prevent this from happening?
    Would our base structures be affected in this same situation if they are not covered?

  4. Is it possible to make mycelium leather on big scales like fabrics and other textiles to cover our big structural grown elements? And has the leather the same biodegradability and qualities as normal mycelium grown structures?

  5. Our teachers were wondering how eco-friendly mycelium items really are? They understand that it is a natural and eco friendly material, no doubt about that! But they are concerned about the entire making proces of the objects. How environmentally friendly is the proces? Because the making of the molds, the entire baking proceses, transportations if necessary are still very polluting in their eyes. What is the real ecological footprint of a mycelium grown item? (we already tried to search this online, but without succes) :pensive:

Sorry for the ton load of questions, but we really hope someone could help us out with this! :sweat_smile: If anyone has some more ideas about this that could help us, our some insights we need to consider and must not overlook! All help and information is appreciated!!
Thanks in advance!! :star_struck:


#2

Hey @Genti , it’s worth tagging @Ichelle and @Elise , they have architecture and mycelium expertise :slight_smile:

My two cents on your questions:

  1. Drying is necessary, especially in architecture I think. The weight to strength ratio is really bad with all the water present in the material. It can hardly bear its own weight if not dried. Drying (and killing) the mycelium in ways other than baking should be possible. You should question the aspects of killing the fungus and drying out the material, which is the point of baking. It’s coincidental that baking does both at the same time.
  2. It would be food for other organisms pretty soon. If it would really attract things (as in: attract them more than a random piece of organic material would) I don’t know. If the object were alive, it would keep growing and probably not be eaten as fast as a dead fungus. If the object were wet, it would degrade faster (but also keep growing faster)
  3. Likely that rain or hail would damage it. Biodegradation happens in humidity, go figure. Any biomaterial that’s untreated will be affected. I general, the mycelium materials are not meant to be outside (without eg. a coating). Partners of ours have built kind of a hybrid pavillion: http://award.designtoimprovelife.dk/nomination/4184
    Apparently it did last outside for months (but I can’t imagine it was pleasant to be in already after the first week)
  4. Probably not and probably yes.
  5. This requires a Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) and none have been completed and disclosed. There are efforts underway though. I know Elise has some valuable things to say about this.

#3

Thanks for the really interesting and helpful answer!! We will do some further research about it and keep you guys posted on the forum about our experiments.

Because it would technical and functionally not be easy to build those big structures as you mentioned earlier. We were thinking to also try a structural type like the mushroom tower from Hy-Fi. Does any of you guys know how they kept the mycelium bricks so good attached to each other? We were thinking about a natural kind of glue?

Thanks in advance!! :star_struck:


#4

AFAIK the tower had a structure inside. The bricks were not the structural elements. Probably it’s hard to make it only with bricks.