While some architects have been experimenting with mushroom mycelium as a cladding material, architect Dirk Hebel and engineer Philippe Block have gone one step further – by using fungi to build self-supporting structures.

Hebel, who leads the Sustainable Construction unit at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, and Block, who founded the Block Research Group at ETH Zürich, have created a tree-shaped structure consisting almost entirely of mycelium.

According to the duo, the material – which is formed from the root network of mushrooms – could provide the structure of a two-storey building, if it is designed with the right geometries.

“We want to show that there might be alternative construction materials that don’t get us in trouble with our world, but that needs to go together with some kind of designing,” explained Block.

“In order to show the potential of new alternative materials, particularly weak materials like mycelium, we need to get the geometry right. Then we can demonstrate something that can actually be very stable, through its form, rather than through the strength of the material.”


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