Mycelium For Building Materials?
“One of the giant lessons I think we’ve learned, which we probably took for granted, was the human need for connection,” said Moving Art filmmaker Louie Schwartzberg on the Quarantine Creatives podcast. One mind-blowing thought, could we as humans possibly one day build a house out of mushrooms?
“What nature has shown me in the decades that I’ve been filming is that everything is interconnected. There are all these symbiotic relationships, and nothing in nature lives alone. That resonates strongly anytime you do a deep dive into nature into biomimicry.”
Biomimicry and Architecture
Biomimicry is a field that uses the lessons of nature to design everything from airplanes to fabrics to homes.
If we say “mushroom house,” you might think of a forest gnome in a pointy hat. You might even think of a moldy shower in the basement where mushrooms grow in the damp season. But we’re talking about the use of mushrooms as a raw and processed material for creating buildings. So is it really possible to build a house of mushrooms?
Researchers, architects, and designers have found that mycelium can be a useful building material in the construction of highly-durable and sustainable architecture. The study of the bacterial colonies of mycelia reveals a complex web of branching, called “hyphae,” which can provide revolutionary design solutions for stronger architecture.
There is the major challenge of not being able to produce mycelia on an industrial scale. But the benefits of mycelium in architecture cannot be ignored. In terms of sustainability, they are unbeatable. They can grow in a variety of simple materials, as long as the right nutrients are present. Mycelia are highly waterproof.
They are also an excellent complement to many other natural building materials, such as wood or bamboo. It is fairly simple to halt the growth process by dehydrating the mycelia, which prepares the building materials. Finally, they do not produce any waste that cannot be composed or biodegrade.
Mycelia architecture presents an exciting new opportunity for nature-inspired building forms. Circular systems are found in nature, and recycle waste so that nothing is ever thrown out. Everything plays its role, and everything is reused. Most modern building processes rely on industrially produced materials that are toxic for the earth, from steel to sealant to caulking.
Mushroom-inspired buildings could help bring humans into harmony with nature by mimicking natural growth patterns and imitating the circular production systems found in nature.