The use of mushrooms in architecture has been proposed before, but now Aleksi Vesaluoma, a student at Brunel University has taken it a step further. He’s developed a fungi-based building material, which is carefully shaped into long tubes and cultivated to form eco-friendly building blocks that can be used for construction quite easily.
Aleksi worked with the London-based frim Astudio on this so-called, Grown Structures project. His technique involves mixing cardboard with mycelium, namely the portion of mushrooms that branches out in thread-like extensions, to create what he refers to as “mushroom sausages.” As the names suggests, these are long, tube-shaped things, which he creates with the help of cotton bandages that are strung over a mold, and left to grow inside a greenhouse for about a month. In this way, the tubes eventually get “glued” together naturally.
The mushrooms that grow this building material can also be eaten. Aleksi envisions these tubes being used to build temporary biodegradable structures, such as festival venues, or even innovative pop-up restaurants, with mushrooms one of the main things on the menu. Further development and experimentation with this material could also one day become the basis for zero-waste construction.
Of course, fungi are a very unconventional building material, and hoping for mainstream adoption of it is probably more a dream than a real possibility. However, many unconventional building materials have already become quite popular, such as insulation made of denim and sheep’s wool, bricks grown from bacteria, sand and urine, to name a few, so maybe fungi don’t have such a long way to go. They are a very eco-friendly and sustainable option, after all.
Aleksi plans to keep working on refining his technique for creating his “mushroom sausages” and has already joined forces with a group of like-minded creatives. They have formed an interdisciplinary design collective called Mandin, which is also working on creating objects out of orange peels and even recycling plastic into skateboard decks.