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Why future homes could be made of living fungus

Scientists from the Pathfinder project Fungar is exploring the possibilities of turning mycelium, the fungus that produces mushrooms, into a new type of building material. The unique project was featured in the Horizon Magazine. Read the full story.

Detail of the the mycelium composite growing over a woven scaffold
The mycelium composite can be grown over a woven scaffold for a period of 7-10 days eventually encasing the structure.
. Image credit - FUNGAR/CITA, 2019-2020

In the summer of 2014 a strange building began to take shape just outside MoMA PS1, a contemporary art centre in New York City. It looked like someone had started building an igloo and then got carried away, so that the ice-white bricks rose into huge towers. It was a captivating sight, but the truly impressive thing about this building was not so much its looks but the fact that it had been grown. 

The installation, called Hy-Fi, was designed and created by The Living, an architectural design studio in New York. Each of the 10,000 bricks had been made by packing agricultural waste and mycelium, the fungus that makes mushrooms, into a mould and letting them grow into a solid mass. 

This mushroom monument gave architectural researcher Phil Ayres an idea. ‘It was impressive,’ said Ayres, who is based at the Centre for Information Technology and Architecture in Copenhagen, Denmark. But this project and others like it were using fungus as a component in buildings such as bricks without necessarily thinking about what new types of building we could make from fungi.  

That’s why he and three colleagues have begun the FUNGAR project – to explore what kinds of new buildings we might construct out of mushrooms. 

Read the full story in the HORIZONE Magazine