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Mycelium: Revolutionizing Sustainable Construction

Mushrooms in soil

Mycelium is more than a concept kids learn about in school or a tool for restoring ecosystems. It’s a material that may revolutionize the way we build our homes, neighborhoods, and cities. The vegetative part of a fungus, mycelium, has been studied for years for its myriad uses, including as an innovative and sustainable building material that could transform the construction industry.

In simple words: Living in mushroom homes never seemed more feasible.

Join us to explore the fascinating world of fungal architecture. We discuss how it works and how we may create eco-friendly buildings with unique properties like self-healing and fire resistance.

Introducing Mycelium

Where plants have roots, fungi have mycelium. This network of tiny, thread-like fibers grows underground, absorbing water and nutrients. Sometimes, the fruiting body (what we know as mushrooms) emerges above ground. Mycelium is self-healing; its network of fibers can easily break and re-form. Hyphae continue to grow after damage, essentially repairing themselves.

Mycelium also boasts impressive fire resistance. Its fibers have low thermal conductivity, meaning they do not spread heat. The water content within mycelium makes it less prone to ignition and capable of releasing water vapor to extinguish flames when heated. Additionally, mycelium provides excellent insulation due to its dense, three-dimensional structure with air pockets that trap heat and keep living spaces comfortable.

How Do We Build With Mycelium?

The possibilities are endless, but scientists have a few general ideas. One option is to use mycelium as a binding agent due to its adhesive properties. Combining it with sawdust or agricultural waste creates a hardy, sustainable composite material. Another approach is to grow mycelium into blocks by placing it in molds filled with nutrient-rich substrate. The resulting structures are lightweight and sturdy, with minimal waste or carbon emissions.

Mycelium Architecture in Practice

Mushroom art


Fungal architecture is not just a theoretical concept; real-world examples exist globally. Notable projects include:

  • The Growing Pavilion: A creation made by mixing mycelium and agricultural waste, described as an “ode to biobased materials.”
  • MY-CO-SPACE:An inhabitable sculpture using mushrooms as the primary material, designed for two occupants to experience cohabitation with fungi.
  • MycoTree: A project exploring the potential of fungi in architecture and design, using fungi and bamboo for construction, insulation, and furniture.
  • HyFi Tower: A NYC construction using mycelium, hemp, and corn stalks to replace synthetic materials.
  • NEWood materials: Materials consisting exclusively of organic, locally sourced matter, aiming to be available in the industrial sector.

Perks of Mycelium-Based Materials

As we’ve seen, mycelium has a range of impressive properties. But how does it compare to traditional options?

Mycelium vs. Traditional Materials

Concrete and wood have long been the go-to choices in the construction industry. While they are durable, they lack self-healing abilities. Fungal materials are lightweight and easy to transport, making them more user-friendly on-site. They are also simple to cut and shape without specialized tools, saving time and money during construction.

Environmental Benefits of Mycelium

Buildings contribute significantly to the climate crisis, with their creation and existence accounting for 39% of the world’s carbon footprint. Mycelium is much more environmentally friendly. Grown rather than manufactured, it has a smaller carbon footprint and can sequester carbon dioxide as it develops. Additionally, fungal blocks produce less waste, as they can be composted and used as nutrient-rich soil additives.

Urban landscape

Economic Benefits of Mycelium

While fungal architecture may require a higher initial investment, it offers significant long-term savings. Mycelium-based materials are durable and require less maintenance and replacement. Their production process is less resource-intensive, relying on organic waste, which reduces energy and raw material usage.

Challenges & Limitations

Sustainable building materials made from fungi are promising, but they come with unique challenges. Scalability and availability can be problematic, as producing large quantities for commercial construction is still difficult. Specific nutrients required for growth can be expensive or hard to obtain. Scientists and engineers are developing methods for efficient and cost-effective mycelium block production, exploring growth in farm manure or combining with existing materials for added sturdiness.

Future of Mycelium Architecture

Fungal architecture has the potential to transform eco-friendly construction. Startups are emerging to make mycelium commercially available for various components, such as:

  • Roofing: Mycelium blocks provide efficient insulation and waterproof properties, making them ideal for roofs.
  • Flooring: Moldable into various shapes, mycelium can create durable floors with insulating properties to regulate temperature and reduce noise.
  • Walls: With strength, insulation, customizability, and fire resistance, mycelium is suitable for both load-bearing and non-load-bearing walls.

The future of sustainable building materials depends on continued interest and investment. As science and industry converge, we can expect increased demand and innovation.

Building a Better Future With Fungi

Mycelium as a sustainable building material holds massive potential. It offers various environmental benefits, potential cost savings, and enhanced safety for inhabitants. While challenges remain, ongoing research is promising. Experimental architecture has proven its feasibility; expansion is the next step. As the world embraces greener solutions, mushroom homes may soon become a reality.

Let’s continue to push the boundaries with fungal architecture and work towards a more sustainable future. Visit our blog for more fascinating explorations in this field.

All content and images on our site are for informational reference only. The cultivation of psilocybin mushrooms is federally illegal in the United States. We do not promote the cultivation of psilocybin “magic” mushrooms under any circumstances. Do not contact us asking for advice related to this subject. Any products found on this site are for microscopy and taxonomy purposes only. None of the psilocybin mushroom spores we offer are for consumption or cultivation. We do not sell any products containing psilocybin.


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