Sustainable material: composite mycelium
Mycelium is a novel material combining filamentous fungi and agricultural residual by-products, a valuable renewable natural resource (Li et al., 2020; Elsacker et al., 2021) This material is known for its biodegradability, strength and versatility, and it has many potential applications in the fields of architecture and urban design (Zhang et al., 2021a).
One of the most promising applications for mycelial composites in the construction industry is as a sustainable alternative to traditional building materials such as concrete and steel. The use of microorganisms in the production of biomaterials, especially in construction and packaging, is an expected technology to bring about environmental sustainability in the near future (D. Zou and L. Gao, 2020). Mycelium composites can be used to manufacture lightweight panels, bricks and even furniture, which are strong, durable and environmentally friendly. In addition, mycelium composites can be used to make insulation and other fire and moisture resistant building components. Growing mycelium composites are sustainable lightweight materials that have been studied as alternatives to synthetic and petroleum-derived foams for thermal insulation. (Jones et al., 2018a, 2018b, 2020; Girometta et al., 2019).
In the urban design industry, mycelium composites can be used to make green roofs, walls, and other sustainable infrastructure (Y. Madhura and M. Agarwal, 2021). Mycelium composites can be used as a substrate for growing plants and other vegetation, which can help reduce the urban heat island effect, improve air quality, and create more natural habitats for wildlife.
Looking ahead, the development of mycelium composites is likely to continue to grow as architects and urban designers look for sustainable alternatives to traditional building materials. As the technology and manufacturing processes for mycelium composites continue to improve, we are likely to see a wider range of applications for the material in buildings, urban infrastructure and even consumer products.
Biobased Creations of Company New Heroes, together with the Dutch Design Foundation started an experiment with other design, knowledge and building pioneers, to build an iconic biobased pavilion: The Growing Pavilion.
The skin of this pavilion consists of 88 mycelium panels. Mycelium are the roots of mushrooms that form a beautiful network underground. By mixing chopped hemp, flax or any other crop with strong natural fibers with a bit of mushroom, the user will have these beautiful, strong, very light, fire retardant, waterproof and soundproof tops in just a few weeks. Users can also use them indoors, or as insulation between walls, but they can also be used outdoors as exterior siding with a suitable natural coating.