A spatial branching structure made out of load-bearing mycelium components
Steel and concrete—these are the first materials that come to mind when one thinks about building. But our resources are finite, which is why construction must break new ground. Scientists at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH) with its research outpost FCL in Singapore are leading the way by researching alternatives to conventional building materials. A result of years of research is “MycoTree”, a self-supporting structure made of fungal 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.
Images © Sustainable Construction, KIT and Carlina Teteris
Future economic and ecological development worldwide is strongly linked to the question where our resources for future prosperity will come from. As our mines dry up and CO2 levels reach alarming levels, we have to radically rethink in all economic sectors. Until now, the earth’s natural resources have been extracted and disposed of in a linear process. This approach has profound consequences for our planet, which will become even worse unless a circular process is installed. Fungal research aims to establish new biological cycles in the construction industry.
KIT: Dirk E. Hebel, Felix Heisel, Karsten Schlesier
ETHZ: Philippe Block, Juney Lee, Matthias Rippmann, Tomas Mendez Echenagucia, Andrew Liew, Noelle Paulson, Tom van Mele
SEC/FCL: Nazanin Saeidi, Alireza Javadian, Adi Reza Nugroho, Robbi Zidna Ilman, Erlambang Adjidarma, Ronaldiaz Hartantyo, Hokie Christian, Orion Tan, Sheng Yu, Kelly Cooper
Also have a look at the ZDF PUR + episode “The power of mushrooms”. The presenter Eric Mayer visits the KIT MycoLab of Prof. Dirk E. Hebel and his research team around Dr. Nazanin Saeidi and Dr. Alireza Javadian to understand how a new class of building materials could be cultivated:
Film © ZDF Pur+
More information about mycelium as a building material and the MycoTree project on www.nb.ieb.kit.edu .