Stanford Designer is Making Fast-Growing Building Bricks Out of Mushrooms That are Stronger than Concrete
While there aren’t any species of mushroom large enough to live in, one Bay-area designer thinks he can make one if he only cranks out enough of his patented “mushroom bricks.”
In fact, he knows he can do it, because he’s already build a showpiece called “Mycotecture”—a 6×6 mushroom brick arch from Ganoderma lucidum or reishi mushrooms.
Phil Ross doesn’t use the mushroom, or fruiting body of the reishi; he uses mycelium, the fast-growing fibrous roots that make up the vast majority of fungus lifeforms.
Mycelium grows fast, and is incredibly durable, waterproof, non-toxic, fire-resistant, and biodegradable.
Ross uses it to build bricks by growing mycelium in bags of delicious (to mushrooms) sawdust, before drying them out and cutting them with extremely heavy-duty steel blades.
This works because mushrooms digest cellulose in the sawdust, converting it into chitin, the same fiber that insect exoskeletons 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 skin,” explained Discover Magazine. “The skin itself is incredibly hard, shatter resistant, and can handle enormous amounts of compression.”
One design/architecture website described these mushroom bricks as “stronger than concrete,” while another quotes Ross in an interview suggesting that it could replace all manner of plastic polymer building materials.
Indeed, designers have already used mycelium to make cloth hats, sea-worthy canoes, and eco-friendly coffins. Ross’ next plan, according to the same interview, is to build an entire house for 12-20 people out of reishi mycelium.
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