Mycelium Bricks

cc57c55defae6ff9dfdcca0e9d9d979c

(my·ce·li·um \mī-ˈsē-lē-əm\)

the mass of interwoven filamentous hyphae that forms especially the vegetative portion of the thallus of a fungus and is often submerged in another body (as of soil or organic matter or the tissues of a host)

 

Recently, I’ve been looking into the work of Philip Ross, Ecovative Design, Eric Klarenbeek, and many other designers who create artwork, furniture, and buildings out of mycelium, which is the vegetative part of fungus. Mycelium grows in a complex network of thin rootlike fibers, and when dried, has certain material qualities that are remarkably suitable for building applications (including strength comparable to concrete, fire-resistance, buoyancy, and water-resistance.) The bricks above were made in brick-shaped molds, by introducing mycelium to agricultural waste and allowing the mycelium to digest and grow around the waste until a solid structure is formed. The bricks were then dried before any mushrooms or spores were able to grow.

What’s most exciting about this material is its seemingly endless applications, including replacement for engineered wood, plastics, foam, leather, and more. These raw materials can be used by artists, designers, and manufacturers to completely rethink the products we use on a daily basis. Some current applications include compostable packaging, clothing, furniture, outdoor products (buoys), and building materials.

 

Here’s a video I found that shows some current research being done at Utrecht University in the Netherlands on the material qualities of mycelium, as well as product design (with the use of digital fabrication) by artist Eric Klarenbeek: Fungus: The Plastic of the Future

Additionally, here is a time-lapse video from students at Syracuse University growing coffee cups out of mycelium and wood chips as a replacement for styrofoam cups: Mycelium Time Lapse. In this particular video, shellac was used on the final result to make a water-proof product. (The material on its own is only water-repellent.)

 

Sources:

philip ross – mycelium bricks

mycoworks – mycelium leather

david benjamin – mushroom structures

ecovative design – mycelium packaging products

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Mycelium Bricks

  1. Your post sparked my curiosity about the building applications of this material. I looked into it a little and discovered that it can be grown in-between an interior and exterior wall serving as a more effective fiberglass and needing no further metal or wood studs to support it. It got me thinking about how architecture in recent years is exploring the concept of eco-design and it seems to me that in some ways the idea of permanent architecture is somewhat against this philosophy. Maybe there is some potential for this material to serve as a biodegradable building material so that buildings can come and go along with the natural course of things based on changing needs and uses.

    Like

  2. Hi Korey! I enjoyed your post. If you are interested in exploring this avenue in your work, I have a great book about growing mushrooms on your own. It’s called “Organic Mushroom Farming” by Tradd Cotter. In it, he details the various ways one can grow mushrooms and how they can even be used to detoxify soil. This book has a chapter about different uses for mushrooms also that I think you would like to read. I got to go to a workshop with him about growing mushrooms for the purposes you are speaking of, and the best option is oyster mushrooms due to their versatility. I have a little experience with growing mushrooms on my own time, so if you want to talk to me about that experience I would be more than happy too. This site sells spawn for fairly cheap. This is the type of spawn I’m using: http://mushroommountain.com/products/oyster-mushroom-fruiting-kit-pleurotus-sp. I’m also trying out this one: http://mushroommountain.com/products/coffee-cultivator. There’s also a mushroom festival in Baltimore called the Mushroom City Art Festival at Leakin Park on October 22nd. You might enjoy going to that and seeing what inspires you there.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s