Grown Structures: A zero-waste structure made from mycelium
Mycelium appears to be the material of the future. It is biobased, sustainable, and you can make a lot of different things with it, from packaging material to dresses. The latest development in this field is using mycelium as construction material. In collaboration with architecture firm Astudio, Aleksi Vesaluoma, student at Brunel University London, has explored how mushrooms can be used to grow zero-waste structures as an alternative for conventional building techniques, in a project aptly called Grown Structures.
The base material of the structures is mycelium from oyster mushroom, mixed with cardboard. It was then moulded into ‘mushroom sausages’ by packing the mixture into tubular cotton bandages. The mycelium was grown over four weeks in a ventilated greenhouse, resulting in a structure that can be used, for example, at festivals or other events. The sausage shape of the structure enhances its strength. After use, the material can be biodegraded.
Aside from providing building structures, the grown structures also provide healthy snacks: large quantities of gourmet mushrooms pop out of the material. These can be picked and eaten. A restaurant grown from mushrooms that serves quite literal home grown mushrooms could be an interesting future project.
When mycelium grows throughout organic materials such as straw, or agricultural waste, it binds the matter together like glue. The resulting material is very versatile and when used in construction, it has the potential to ease environmental problems caused by resource deletion, deforestation for wood or toxic emissions from brick firing. Exploring the structural potentials of mycelium materials could help in shaping a future where architecture is grown from bottom up rather than consuming resources and creating waste
Vesaluoma and friends have recently formed the design collective MANDIN. You can visit their site here.
Photos: Vesaluoma / Brunel University