Mushroom buildings

Fungus building blocks tower New York

Could homes of the future be built entirely out of MUSHROOMS?

A new building material made from fungus could allow aspiring property owners to grow their own homes from scratch, instantly solving problems of resource scarcity and rising energy prices.

The soft and spongy material, which provides excellent insulation, has already been used in the building of an impressive 40ft tower, proving its potential for construction purposes.

The tower, which is comprised of more than 10,000 fungus bricks, won first place in this year’s Young Architect Programme competition in New York.

Structural engineers Matthew Clark, 34, and Shiana Saporta, 31, worked with product designer and architect David Benjamin to bring the fungi fantasy to life.

Miss Saporta said: “We were interested in working with an organic material which offers lots of possibilities.

“The only limit to what shape you can create with the mushrooms is down to the mould you grow the brick in.

“The bricks take five days to grow and require no heat or sunlight, making it an incredibly low energy product.”

Mr Clark said: “As a construction material it has many practical applications.

“Insulation is a real target as modern insulation is made of hydrocarbons and are very energy intensive. This way, the insulation can just be grown.”

The bricks involved in the construction of the tower, which was housed at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, were made by encouraging fungus to bond with organic farm waste. In total, each brick cost less than £1.25.

Mr Clark said: “If you’ve ever walked through woodland you may have noticed the leaves on the floor have become sewn together by white mesh.

“I remember this distinctly as a kid and when the project came along I made the connection and realised this fungus, which tied the forest floor together, was something we could use.”

Mr Clark, who works alongside Shiana Saporta at international engineering firm Arup, said he was confident the fungus brick will be a key product in the future of temporary housing and low-energy materials.

He added that the fungus is generally unsuitable for human consumption.

He said: “I’ve eaten some and it tastes pretty bad – but with some hot sauce and a few shots of whiskey it’s not too horrible.

“The future is bright and smells of mushrooms.”

The science behind the mushroom brick was first employed by New York based company Ecovative, who originally used the fibrous fungus as an environmentally friendly alternative to styrofoam packaging.

They have since gone on to employ the technology in products such as lamps and surfboards.

More high resolution pictures are available on request. To discuss rates for using pictures and copy, contact news editor Tom Knight on 07815 004413 or tom@medavia.co.uk.

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