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Mushrooms Pop Back Up As Sustainable Building Material

Friday, June 23, 2017

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A student at Brunel University London has brought using mushrooms in construction materials back to the surface for the university’s Made in Brunel exhibition.

Aleksi Vesaluoma worked with London-based architectural firm Astudio to create “mushroom sausages”—a construction materials that combines mycelium (the vegetative part of the fungus) and cardboard—to make up his “Grown Structures” technique.

Photos courtesy of Brunel University London

A student at Brunel University London has brought using mushrooms in construction materials back to the surface for the university’s Made in Brunel exhibition.

“Mycelium materials are beneficial to us and the environment as well as just being … really cool,” Vesaluoma said. “They’re another great example of why we need to trust the intelligence of nature in helping us create more regenerative systems of manufacture.”

The mushroom mixture is packed into a tubular cotton bandage, creating the “sausage” shape, which Vesaluoma says strengthens the structure. The sausages are then shaped and left to grow over a period of about four weeks in a ventilated greenhouse, resulting in the final structure.

When mycelium grows through organic material, such as straw, it becomes a strong binding agent similar to glue making it a versatile material that can come in handy for construction.

The mushrooms that continue to grow on the structure can be picked off and eaten, which lends itself to a vision of a self-sustaining all-mushroom based restaurant for the creator.

The mushroom mixture is packed into a tubular cotton bandage, creating the “sausage” shape, which Vesaluoma says enhances strengthens the structure. The sausages are then shaped and left to grow over a period of about four weeks in a ventilated greenhouse, resulting in the final structure.

“Exploring the structural potentials of mycelium materials could help in shaping a future where architecture is grown from bottom up rather than consuming resources and creating waste,” Vesaluoma said. “Various solutions are being commercialized in the U.S.A. and Netherlands but in my opinion the material needs to be introduced to a much wider market, including the U.K.”

His United States mention is in reference to companies like New York-based Ecovative, which has a “Mushroom Materials” product that’s been used to create bricks, as well as an insulation material that came out of the University of Alaska-Anchorage.

Vesauloma says that he thinks that the mushroom-based building materials haven’t gone more mainstream largely because of the perception and the way the industry is programmed.

“Right now the main factors holding back the mass-commercialization of mycelium materials are people’s pre-assumptions, as well as the power of the profit-driven materials industry,” he said.

   

Tagged categories: Building materials; Construction; Eco-efficiency; Green building

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