Mycotectural Buildings Made Of Fungus
Mycotecture, or the creation of architectural forms with fungus, is being pioneered by Philip Ross at Far West Fungi in California. He doesn't use the caps of the mushroom; he's interested in the mycelium, the white root-like fibers that form a network in the soil below.
Grown in a mold, and then dried, it is an amazing material. It is nontoxic, fireproof, mold-resistant and extremely tough. Ross used bricks of mycelium to create an art project called Mycotectural Alpha, as well as natural packaging materials used in place of styrofoam.
Mushrooms are grown by packing sawdust into airtight bags, then steam cooking the packed bags for several hours. After these pasteurized wood chips have cooled down small pieces of mushroom tissue are introduced into the bag, which eagerly devours the neutralized wood. As the fungus digests and transforms the contents of the bag it solidifies into a mass of interlocking cells, slowly becoming denser and taking form. Like plaster or cement, mushrooms can be cast into almost any shape.The Ganoderma fungus takes two to four weeks to eat the sawdust and solidify into what looks like a decrepit cake.
After the mushroom tissue has colonized all of the sawdust the tops of the bags are cut off and moved into a growing room with high humidity. The bricks are then unwrapped and moved to a drying room for about a month.
Mushrooms digest cellulose and transform it into chitin, the same material that insect shells are made from. The bricks have the feel of a composite material with a core of spongy cross grained pulp that becomes progressively denser towards its outer layers. The skin itself is incredibly hard, shatter resistant, and can handle enormous amounts of compression. Shaping and cutting the bricks destroyed our files, rasps and saws.
SF fans enjoy tales about dwelling places that are all natural - and grown to order. Like the house trees from Jack Vance's classic 1954 novel The Houses of Iszm:
There were trees comprised of a central columnar trunk and four vast leaves, arching out and over to the ground to form four domed halls illuminated by the pale green transmitted light. There was a tough-trunked tree supporting a single turretlike pod, with lanceolate foliage spiking outward at the base: a watch-tower for the feuding tribesmen of Eta Scorpionis.
(Read more about the house trees)
From Mycotecture via Time; thanks to Meditating Bear for pointing this story out.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 2/11/2010)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 3 )
Related News Stories -
Amphibio 3D Printed Gill Shirt
'... we can descend and live down there at one of those year-round aquatic resorts.' - Philip K. Dick, 1966.
Self-Healing Circuits From Carnegie Mellon
'It even had an inter-skin layer of gum that could seal the punctures...'- Raymond Z. Gallun, 1951.
Dune Fans! Metal-Organic Frameworks Make Science Fiction Real
'Dew collectors,' he muttered, enchanted by the simple beauty of such a scheme. - Frank Herbert, 1965.
Fungi-Infused Concrete Repairs Itself
'I noticed that curious mottled knots were forming, indicating where the room had been strained and healed faultily.'- J.G. Ballard, 1962.
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
Sleeep PRO Earplug For Maximum Rest
'Merton... placed the electrodes of the sleep-inducer on his forehead.'
Inspired By Japan, Nap Pods For Hajj
It's always a good time for a nap.
Amphibio 3D Printed Gill Shirt
'... we can descend and live down there at one of those year-round aquatic resorts.'
How Do You Put An Asteroid Into Earth Orbit? Carefully!
'...she would have to be coaxed by another series of pats into a circular orbit.'
PD Aerospace Space Plane By 2023
'The sleek, tapered space shuttle lay immobile upon the private landing field...'
Foldimate Folds Your Clothes Perfectly
Look ma, my room is clean! I can hear you now.
Robots Help People Get Dressed, As Predicted In 1931
Yes, people of the future, robots will dress you.
International Space Station Leak Plugged - With Finger
'These tag-alongs search out stray leaks.'
Robot Snake Flies, Fights Fires
Just a prototype, but still amazing.
IPAL Chinese Robot Babysitter
'But Nanny is different...'
ZKZM-500 LASER Assault Rifle
'The Iranian reached back into the locker and got a pair of laserifles.'
LA Subway Scanner, As Seen In 'Total Recall'
'I'm afraid to tell you this Mr. Quaid, but you have suffered a schizoed embolism...'
Sion Electric Car Covered With Solar Panels
'It drew its power from six square yards of sunpower screens on its low curved roof.'
PAL-V Liberty Flying Helicopter Car
'...lifted themselves to skimming flight upon whirling helicopters."
Space Drones - UK's Effective Space To Launch Rocket Tugs
'Twenty rocket tugs towed it from its Earth hangar out into space.'
DIY Autonomous Robot Detects Trash
'The search-bug detached itself and rolled forward.'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories