The future of Buildings- Making Bricks out of mushrooms that are Stronger than Concrete

Philip Ross is an artist and lecturer at Stanford University who focuses on an unlikely sustainable design element: mushrooms. After years of growing mushrooms, Ross has learned that there’s far more than meets the eye to mycelium — the extensive and tangled network of root-like fibers that grow beneath the ground. According to fungus expert, when left to dry the mycelium can become an excellent raw material for various constructions. For instance, Ross used the mycelium to fashion bricks out of.

Among its many properties, the mycelium bricks are:

  • Lightweight
  • Fire Resistant
  • Super Strong, even e stronger than concrete pound-for-pound
  • Water and mold Resistant

Mycelium

Mycelium are the root-like fibers of fungi which grow beneath the surface of the ground, appearing as a frost-like growth beneath leaves and bark and growing into a dense network for sprouting mushrooms. Mycelium holds together large amounts of the planet’s topsoil and has already been used to create powerful antibiotics. Mycologist Philip Ross discovered that it can be grown and transformed into building blocks of different shapes that are 100% organic and compostable, with a consistency that is stronger than concrete when compared pound for pound.

How to make Mycelium (Mushroom) Brick

All you need is some organic matter, sawdust waste and a small amount of mushroom, and as the fungus consumes the sawdust nutrients, its mycelium grows into a solid block of cells which can be confined within particular-shaped molds. If you place two living fungal bricks alongside one another, they will fuse into an unbreakable bond within a few hours – a process that can only be halted by drying or curing the material, effectively killing the mycelium so it doesn’t continue to grow and resulting in a rigid material.

The final result is a mushroom brick that’s 200,000 times softer than steel, 10,000 times less stiff than a typical housing brick, but capable of holding the equivalent of 50 cars

Once dried, this mycelium-built material can then be sanded and painted to resemble other building materials and used for commercial purposes. Not only is it sturdy, resilient and bulletproof, but it can withstand extreme temperatures, and when its lifetime of use is over, the material can be easily composted.

Buildings made from natural resources are challenging conventions in design
The 40ft (12m) structure sits in a courtyard at MoMA PS1, an art gallery in New York.

Hi-Fy isn’t the only project to incorporate Ecovative’s material from mushrooms.  According to the company, designers around the globe are working to incorporate the sustainable substance into high-end lampshades, plant holders, and an eco-friendly surfboard dubbed “El Portobello.”

 

It is the first sizable structure to claim near-zero carbon emissions in its construction process, and, beyond recycling, it presents itself as being 100% compostable,” says Pedro Gadanho, MoMA curator. “Recurring to the latest developments in biotech, it reinvents the most basic component of architecture—the brick—as both a material of the future and a classic trigger for open-ended design possibilities.”

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