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Jack Jarrett Architects
Essentially the root structure of mushrooms, mycelium is a high performing, rapidly renewable, VOC-free, organic substrate which could become a viable construction material in the near-future. Mycelium may well become a solution to pollution - it naturally absorbs and cleans up pollutants as a form of bio-remediation, breaking down hydrocarbons, reducing E. coli and has also been used to clean up radioactive waste, helping to create healthier environments for our buildings and cities.
The material is already industrially produced by Ecovative Design to replace plastic foams like expanded polystyrene (or Styrofoam) or expanded polyethylene in packaging, and as such we tested the material to see if it's viable to replace insulation within construction, using it with a number of aggregates, forms and environmental conditions to see the effect on the product.
Together with Will Pohl of ARCHEA Architecture, we worked to research and develop this new organic construction material. The research was undertaken in support of Jonas Lundberg and Nate Kolbe's work at the The Sir John Cass Faculty of Art, Architecture & Design in promoting and developing new materials and tectonics.
As well as comparable thermal resistivity to existing insulations, mycelium can be combined with agricultural waste to create stronger structures, which can be moulded into various custom forms, and needs only a few days curing time. With no need for additional heating, these have very little embodied energy, and can provide both the insulation and cladding for a building, reducing the number of materials and layers required for construction.
If you're interested in developing your own studies, Paul Stamets' thirty minute talk on how mushrooms can save the world is a good place to begin, or why not give Myco Make a go - let us know how you get on!