Architect Dirk Hebel and engineer Philippe Block use fungi to build beautiful self-supporting structures.  They have created a tree-shaped structure consisting almost entirely of mycelium.

The material they use is formed from the root network of mushrooms. The duo claims that this material is capable of providing the structure of a two-storey building if the right geometry is used in the design. “Then we can demonstrate something that can actually be very stable, through its form, rather than through the strength of the material,” explains Block.

Their installation, called MycoTree, consists of dozens of mycelium components that support one another in compression. A system of bamboo endplates and metal dowels keep these components together – but it is the mycelium that is taking all the load.

 

The templates for the moulds, created by Block’s team were sent to a mushroom farming company in Indonesia called Mycotech. The blocks were grown there, before being transported to Seoul for assembly. Mushroom spores are mixed with sawdust and sugarcane. The fungi consume the nutrients. After a few days, it begins to transform into a dense and spongy mass.
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It is then transferred into moulds, where it continues to densify. The mycelium will develop a thick skin that helps to protect it.
After the material is dehydrated to kill the organism and stop the growing process, it is used as a building block.


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Structure shows how mushrooms could create building frameworks

While some architects have been experimenting with mushroom mycelium as a cladding material, architect Dirk Hebel and engineer Philippe Block have gone one step further – by using fungi to build self-supporting structures. Hebel, who leads the Sustainable Construction unit at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, and Block, who founded the Block Research Group at ETH Zürich, have created a tree-shaped structure consisting almost entirely of mycelium.

experimenting with mushroom mycelium as a cladding material