Mycology, Design with Nature, IAAC

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2014/15 MICOLOGY living architecture

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Research Studio: design with nature

Faculty: Javier Pena, Rodrigo Rubio Faculty Assistant: Oriol Carrasco Assistant: Alessio Verdolino

Silvia Oliva Marco



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1 Material Brief - Mycelium 2 Actual Uses 3 Material Properties 4 Growing Process

02. LIFE CYCLE by Human Hands

02 | 1 Clonation 02 | 2 Cultivation 02 | 3 Reproduction


03 | 1 MycoForestry 03 | 2 MycoFiltration System 03 | 3 Mycotectonics

04. References 05. Bibliography


Thesis METABOLIC DESIGN A Metabolic design is a set od interralated processes that allows growth, reproduction, etc. It is understood as a closed cycle of mutual interralationship of the componets, able to recreate again and again, constantly changing, evoluting. A Metabolic design should be resilient, self-sufficient, part of our living system. Space - Time - Matter - Energy - Information PROGRAMME/ CONTEXT The disgn of Architectural interventions that can negotiate and integrate with socio-cultural and geo-political or to a building system that involves its own production, etc. POLYVALENCE AND DESIGNED SYSTEMS The projects embrance a multi-systematic logic to design and materiality that seeks to synthesize architecture as an ecosystem involving many different species operating in a complex and interdependent way. The draw on number of different design systems, cooperating as a coherent architectural outcome, both within their internal relations and their relations to the outside world.


DESIGN PROPOSAL Understand matter as a self-organizing force capable of gradient transformation and singularity, not only formally but also topologically, spatial organizations are explored through topology and material processes that are harnessed to collectively organize a polyvalent architecture. MYCOLOGY Architecture propose a metabolic cycle that integrates multiscalar processes creating a interaction between people and nature. It is a proposal for a prototype of a mycoforestry process for Collserola Natural Park of Barcelona. Collserola lies fully within the area of Mediterranean influence, characterized by mild winters, hot and dry summers, moderate annual thermal oscillation and seasonal rainfall which is, overall, low and highly irregular, ending on high rates of fires. The symbiosis process between mycelium and agricultural waste is necessarly required to increase natural and social capital of this former agricultural city. MATERIAL ARE ORIGINATED FROM THE SITE The agricultural waste is re-cycle and re-invented into in-situ biomaterial which act as a mycofiltration system for the “Mesias“ and other urbanized areas of Collserola and as a mycomembrane for Mycoforestry.


It will be solidified by microbial agent called “mycelia“ or roots of mushroom, then grows itself as a living material and evolves into a living architecture for food (mushroom) production, public recreation, soil moisture retention and erosion resistant soils. Finally the architecture will be biodegradable into a fertilizer (mycorestoration) as a close-loop design back into the soil. WE GROW ARCHITECTURE The young material which has wetness or soft bodies are solidified to hard and dry as it is cured by heat, and within the proximity of branches when it is wet, emerging the self-binding property, as it appears in mycelium foraging pattern, that enables the rigidity of the whole geometry more stronger. Hence, an evolutionary design strategy has been used to incorporate material cycles with architectural program cycles through time based adapt-ability, grow-ability and decompose-ability.


Natural composites of biological matter such as mycological fungi offer several advantages, including freedom from oil feed-stocks, low cost production, carbon capture and storage. These benefits make mycology materials carbon-neutral or even carbon-negative. Composite materials remain the material of choice for a wide variety of applications, but the high cost of raw materials and complex processing is opening a new avenue for sustainable composites. The vegetative part of fungi, called mycelium, provide a fast growing, safe and inert material as the matrix for a new generation of natural composites, which can serve as replacements for traditional polymeric materials for applications including insulation, packaging, and sandwich panels. As seen in nature, natural foams can provide acceptable mechanical properties, with the benefits of being lightweight, sustainable and inert. In this investigation mechanical testing was conducted to determine the mechanical behavior of a mycelium material, including its elastic and strength properties in tension and compression. As in synthetic polymeric foams the mycelium material exhibited a compressive strength almost three times the tensile strength. Its high specific compressive strength made it a sustainable option as the core of sandwich panels. The strength of the material was found to decrease with increasing moisture content of the material, suggesting that coatings to inhibit moisture diffusion would ensure consistency and


performance. Mycelium is a network of carbon- based matter which grows as struts, forming the cellular structure of mycelium. The mycelium network is made of individual hyphae, which grow from the inoculation of a mycelium fungal strain spore into a cellular material, and consume carbon and nitrogen containing feed-stocks to build a network of mycelium hyphae [1]. Unusually they are nonphotosynthetic organisms which absorb all their required nutrients from their host feed-stock. Typically found buried within degrading and rotting bio-matter including wood, leaf matter, flesh, or any other carbon-containing matter, the mycelium structure of fungi is often hidden within the host matter and only becomes visible when the fruiting stage is reached and fruiting bodies appear on the surface to disperse spores. In this investigation only pre-fruiting stage mycelium were used to prevent exposure to spores for safety.

# 01


_Material Brief _ Mycelium _Actual Uses _Material Properties _Growing Process



ARCHITECTURE IS ABLE TO GROW, DECAY AND GROW AGAIN... The separation of production, consumtion ans waste make us rethink what are we doing. Could we do something like this bench which come from waste hay and finally decompose back to the field as fertilizer. The whole life cycle of this chair is whithin the life cycle of the field. There is no waste but only the transformation of the material.

PRODUCT FORM BY-PRODUCT The process of recycling the hay is a process of constructing the temporal condition of bench in loose-fit condition which allow the aggregation of material go back to the hay again. Some agricultural waste: hay, rice, hull could be died up and formed in any shape and form by vegetable wax. Mostly this idea is applied to create a continer or seed pot which has a temporary use lasting from 55 days to 5 years depending on the solidication technology.


GARDEN BENCH Jergen Bey. Droog Design 1999. Materials: hay, raysin, MDF.


Actual Uses -FOR FOOD:


Edible mushrooms are the fleshy and edible fruiting bodies of several species of fungi. They belong to the macrofungi, because their fruiting structure are large enough to be seen with naked eye. They can appear above the ground (epigous) or below (hypogeous) where they may be picked by hand.

Within the properties of mycelium itself, it is not able to be anything else except spreadable fungu, but with hosting materials: hay, rice hulls, wood, etc. mycelium mutates the host to become a part of itself where the quality of reinforcement emerges. Like a clay, the heat treatment palys a important role on the phase of the material: soft hard, crystal. For mycelium it will grow, solidate, decay or grow again. I believe that the experimentation on this small living organism could lead me the way we think about material and new tectonic in Architecture. Hy-Fi Boidegradable Tower by David Benjamin’s, it is series of organic circular-brick towers with shiny mirroring film on top produced by 3M. The Living’s design utilizez Mycelium, creating a new type of brick that is 100% organic, compostable and closed-cycle approved; process aided by Ecoactive, a company for which The Living collaborates. There is no energy, no waste and no carbon emission in the construction and deconstraction as bricks will return to the ground as compost for the life cycle of organisms in nature.

- FOR MEDICINE: The ability of some mushrooms to inhibit tumor growth and enhance aspects of the inmune system has been a subject of research for approximately 50 years.Preclinical studies suggest that compounds from up to 200 species of mushrooms may be inhibit tumor growth, but required dosage and effects on humans is mostly unknown.

-FOR COMPOSE and DETOXIFICATION: Woodchips broken down by growing oyster mushrooms. Paul Stements; a longtime mushroom researcher, discovered that mushroom mycelium also has the unique ability to break down hydrocarbons. Everything from pesticides to dioxins have a hydrocarbon base, including chloride, PCBs., etc.

-FOR INSULATION: Greensulate team is literally growing the product not manufacturing it. The use mycelium to transform agricultural waste , like cottom seed hulls and buck wheat hulls, into energy-efficient insulation. They patent pending process is inspired by the efficiency of nature, and uses a filamentous fungi to bond seed husks into a strong rigid board.


HI-FI Biodegradable Tower David Benjamin’s. Materials: mycelium, agricultural waste.


MATERIAL PROPERTIES _Network EMERGENCE BEHAVIOR OF MYCELIUM NETWORK In conclusion the emergence behavior of fungal mycelia has main characteristics which are: 1. A complex interconnected hyphal network which is decentralized 2. Self-organized funtional domain behavior or physiological oscillations 3. The system of foraging is a network function, rather than just network topology. 4. The chemical signal in each hyphae tip allow the adaptability of survaving towards source of nutrients.


Typically a single spore germinates into a monokaryotic mycelium which cannot reproduce sexually, when two compatible monojaryotic mycelia join and form a dijariotic mycelium, that mycelium may form fruiting bodies such as mushrooms. A mycelium may be minute, forming a colony that is too small to see, or it may be extensive.

GROWING PROCESS A Mushroom releases millions of spores instead of seeds to propagate itself. Once the mushroom spores are given a humid environment to grow in, they transform into cotton thread structures called mycelium. The mycelium is the equivalent to a plants roots. It spreads out digesting what it can (mainly fibre), and then fruits mushrooms when the conditions are right. “Primordia� is the bunching up of mycelium that goes on to form mushrooms. The primordia turns from little pins into mushrooms




by Human Hands

_Clonation _Reproduction _ Cultivation





# 03 MYCOlogy

_Multyscalar Process

_MycoForestry _MycoFiltration System _Mycotectonics


mycoforestry For thousands of years, firestorms have been part of the woodland cycle. Until humans arrived in the scene, fires were primarly started by lightning strikes, volcanic eruptions, spontaneous combustions of peat bogs, and the rare metrorite impact. We have made the environment more susceptible to fires as water is diverted for agricultural and urban use as well as with our continual encroachment onto forestlands, not no mention our practice of purposefully setting fires.

Paul Statements Running Mycelium



SITE _ COLLSEROLA NATURAL PARK The magnificent Serra de Collserola massif rises up over Barcelona Metropolitan Area, almost touching the city, it is a well-preserved, 8,000-hectare natural area in which forest predominates but which also includes a variety of other plant formations that provide a habitat for valuable biological diversity. Collserola lies fully within the area of Mediterranean influence, characterised by mild winters, hot, dry summers, moderate annual thermal oscillation and seasonal rainfall which is, overall, low and highly irregular. According to data from the Fabra Observatory (432 m), mean annual temperature is around 15°C. In winter (usually not a particularly cold season here), average temperature rarely falls below 5°C, whilst in summer it is around 21°C. As for rainfall, the annual average is relatively high, over 620 mm, with two wet seasons: autumn (October, 83.1 mm) and spring (May, 60.4 mm) and an intensely dry summer period (July, 10.6 mm). According to data gathered over the last ten years at the Consortium weather station, mean average temperature is 14.1°C and average annual rainfall 526 mm. Microclimates (significant local climate variations) clearly exist in Collserola, influenced by the topography of the terrain, the sea’s thermoregulatory effect, variations in altitude, the amount of insolation received by different mountainsides, plant cover, etc. As a result of all this, temperature differences of up to 10°C or more can exist from one place to another in winter. The proposal attempts to solve the problem of drought and fire probabilities for Collserola Park, implementing layes of mycelyum as this reduces aerial wood debris in forest and increases moisture retention, reducing the chance of fire. Another ecological payoff of wood-decomposing mycelium is that it creates erosion-resistant soil. Mycofiltration buffer zones near watersheds, they can fortify the forest with beneficial fungi. Where wood chips touch the ground, fungi easily grow into them and transport moisture with their threadlike mycelium. The myceliated wood chips then become like a sponge, retaining water (which is needed by neighboring plants) and lessening fire danger.



mycofiltration Mushroom mycelium has a unquenchable appetite for organic debris. Taking advantage of this appetite , the mycological landscaper can select mushroom species that target and consime the bacteria and protozoa in a habitat.

Paul Stamets Running Mycelium



WATER FILTRATION SYSTEM_MYCELIUM The dirty water constantly hits the ground while polluting the surroundings crops. The flow of contaminated water causes the acidity of the soil, without letting this to regenerate.

Considering that one person spends 20 liters diary hen going to the toilet, the project is designed for 300 liters of water per day.

The proposal is an installation of a mycofiltration system in orther to clean the water.

1 person = 20 liters/day

1. The system stars with the water storage for the Sedimentation process acts.

The system is divided in 4 stages:

1. Water Storage 2. Sedimentation 3. Mycofiltration Oyster 4. Mycofiltration Shiitake

The slope of the landscape lets the water flow from the installation to the Eateble Forest having as a result clean water for irrigation.


2. Sedimentation is to let the water in a container at rest, so that solids having separate and are directed to the background. Most sedimentation techniques are based on the gravity. 3. The next step is the Oyster Mycelium layer which cleand the following pollutants: -Escherichia Coli - Aspergillus Niger (food poison) - Basillus Spp. (food poison) - Plasmodium Falciparum (malaria) 4. The last layer of mycofiltration is the Shiitake one that cleans the following pollutants: - Candida albicans (infection) - Mycobacterius tuberculosis - Streptococus Pyogenes (pharyngistis)

Can Valldaura Mesia

Mycofiltration System


Mycotectonics Mycological materials are entirely compostable, degrading into its natural constitutes producing soil humus, while aiding the nitrogen-fixation process of soils. In comparison to polymeric materials the fast decay time and natural decomposition of mycelium materials provides reduced environmental impact.



Material Characteristics SOLIDIFICATION The mycelium material has the advantages of being a naturally occurring, sustainably produced and free from toxic manufacturing process including toxic foaming agents. Mycelium materials can be grown in large volumes from waste feed-stocks such as corn husks, wood chips or cotton carpels, without the need for costly manufacturing processes and offering improved environmental safety, indicates potential as a replacement for current polymeric foams used in insulation, packaging, and sandwich panels. The minimum time of growth is 15 days, with a specific conditions of 70% of humidity and a 20 - 25C. After this period the ready to be solidified, it has to expose to a higher temperture, 30 -35C, to eliminate the humidity. The humidity is an important factor to masure the properties of the material, depends on it the compression strength. STRENGTH The mycelium material was seen to be a composite material of mycelium foam matrix and wood reinforcement. Static mechanical tests showed the frangible nature of the material resulted in a low material ultimate tensile strength of 15kPa, with a tensile modulus of 1.3MPa, indicating high stiffness. In compression the material demonstrated a yield point of 47.5kPa and ultimate compressive strength of 490kPa. The strength of the material was found to decrease with increasing moisture content of the material, thus the moisture content reduction process is vital to ensure consistency and performance.



MYCOROOF To continue with the landscape morpfology I designed a vault, which was rebuilt to be a self suported structure, taking as a reference The Catalan Vault. To have a lighter structure I decided to tesselate the vault with a voronoi shape and fill the spaces with fabric, having a different gradients of shadow. I used a Solar Analysis to have optimal tesselation according to the location I’m working with. After many trials, the grasshopper gave me the final result. The struture has a dimension of:

8 meter long 5 meters width 3,5 meters height

The method used is “the injection of mycelium” taking as a reference the Costa Brava Pavilion. It is a on-site construction, first the vault shape needs to be inflated to support the web-like formwork of rugged fabric, into which a lightweight, high-strength mycelium mix is injected. The hexagonal plywood “plugs” created the standoff for the oblong window forms. When finished, the windows will frame textured, translucent panes made of fabric. The roof is not also to provide shadow to the mycofiltration system but also acts like a control point for a Mycelium Factory.




Fungi are the grand recyclers of our planet, the mucomagicians dissembling large organic molecules into simpler forms, which in turn nourish other members of the ecological community. Fungi are the interface orgnisms between life and death. The Mycelium stays in constant molecular communication with its environmet, devising diverse ensymatic and chemical responses to complex challeges. These networks not only survive, but sometimes expand to thousands of hectares in size, achiving the greatest mass of any individual organism on this planet. That mycelia can spread enormous cellular mats across thousands os hectares is a testimonial to a successful and versatile evolutionary strategy.


Mycelium is a multifunctional living material able to improve the environment where it’s placed. When Mycelium is alive it grows consuming the nitrogen and other components that are harmful for the plants and soil, it has the ability to retain moisture and to live in symbiosis with other living systems. Its fruit, mushrooms, are used as food and for medicinal purposes, helping humanity. When material gets dry its properties change becoming a light and strong material able to be used in construction, and when its life cycle ends it returns to earth, with no waste and no carbon emissions.







References _Running Mycelium by Paul Stamets 2005. Paul Edward Stamets (born July 17, 1955) is an American mycologist, author and advocate of bioremediation and medicinal mushrooms. _Mycofarmx, It is a mycelium prototype design _The rowing Lab, It is a research of mycelium as a material and how to apply it. _Fungi Mutarium, It is a mycelium prototype design. _Ecoactive Design, It is a company which use mycelium as an isulation material.