A big part of the construction industry is dependant on fossil fuels when it comes to materials. Unfortunately this causes a huge carbon footprint across the earth, and due to this construction companies are under a huge amount of pressure to “go green”.
The new design idea on the block is to build houses using hemp and straw, and create bricks using mushrooms.
A 40ft mushroom house currently sits in the courtyard of MoMA PS1, an art gallery based in New York. From a distance, it looks somewhat like an old tower built in the middle of a desert, but when you get up close you can see the modernistic design behind the 100 brick assembly.
Using bioengineering, this house has been made using eco-friendly mushrooms, as they are grown with no carbon emissions and therefore make a highly sustainable and “green” building material.
Architect David Benjamin says:
“This is a hybrid of what I call an ancient technology of mushrooms and a totally new technology of computation and engineering,"
The mushroom brick is created by mixing together mycelium, the vegetable part of the fungus, and some chopped up corn husks. That mixture is then put into a mould and left to develop and grow for five days. After this amount of time the result is a solid, yet lightweight, grey brick.
Using a custom algorithm, the bricks are then laid using a layered design, allowing builders to also utilise other local materials such as agricultural waste. This method makes the bricks biodegradable and creates a magnificent mushroom tower.
It’s hopeful that this new eco-friendly method of construction will eventually be used around the world; any area that is abundant in rice will be able to use the husks to mix with mycelium, thus creating sustainable mushroom bricks.
Mr Benjamin is hopeful for the future of green construction:
"We want to use living systems as factories to grow new materials," he says. "Hopefully this will help us see cities more as living breathing organisms than solid, static, inert places."
These aren’t the first eco-bricks to be developed though; Ginger Krieg Dosier has also been developing bricks using a mixture of sand and bacteria, that is grown in a mould while being fed a nutrient solution. Just like with the mushroom bricks, these are then ready to use after five days.
Ms Dosier has always had an interest in bio-materials, and has been fascinated by natural cements since she was a little girl. Her bricks are now being used to make paving as part of a pilot project.
Jacob Kriss from the US Green Building Council says that the building sector is “responsible for almost 40% of carbon dioxide emissions in the US”, so the council is nothing but excited about these experimental materials.
All these developments indicate a new level of eco innovation, which will hopefully allow sustainable construction in the near future. It’s great to think that these bio-bricks could lead the way to resilient, healthy structures that are not only better for the planet, but also for the people who use them.
Image Credit: Golda Arthur
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