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2017 Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism

1. October 2017

2017 Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism

Beyond Mining – Urban Growth

Titled “Beyond Mining – Urban Growth”, scientists of the Department of Sustainable Construction at the Faculty of Architecture at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) in cooperation with the Block Research Group at ETH Zurich presented a load-bearing structure made of fungal mycelium and bamboo as part of the Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism 2017, which gives a first impression of how the range of materials could be supplemented by renewable and recyclable materials in the future.

The 21st century will face a radical paradigm shift in how materials are produced for the construction of future habitats. The linear concept of “produce, use, and discard” has proven itself unsustainable in the face of scarce resources and exponentially growing urban populations. Instead, to achieve a cycle of production, use, and re-use, we must explore alternative materials and approaches to construction. Materials that were previously considered unwanted and low-strength may present possibilities to end this undesirable state of affairs. Guided by informed structural design and engineering, building with natural materials that can be effectively cultivated on site or locally may bring about the changes that are desperately needed.

MycoTree is a spatial branching structure made out of load-bearing mycelium components. Its geometry was designed using 3D graphic statics, keeping the weak material in compression only. Its complex nodes were grown in digitally fabricated moulds. Utilising only mycelium and bamboo, the structure represents a provocative vision of how we may move beyond the mining of our construction materials from the earth’s crust to their cultivation and urban growth; how achieving stability through geometry rather than through material strength opens up the possibility of using weaker materials structurally and safely; and, ultimately, how regenerative resources in combination with informed structural design have the potential to propose an alternative to established, structural materials for a more sustainable building industry.

MycoTree is the result of a collaboration between the Professorship of Sustainable Construction at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and the Block Research Group at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zürich. It was the centrepiece of the “Beyond Mining – Urban Growth” exhibition at the Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism 2017 in Seoul, Korea.




1. October 2017
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