Master´s Thesis 2021 Material Turn

Aran Mardoukhi & Aswini Balashanmugam

Design for Co-existence

A monolithic mycelium wall is conceptualised using growth as an element of design propagation. The life cycle of the wall forms a closed loop circular system by providing shelter and food throughout the year and finally goes back to soil as compost towards the end of its lifespan offering vital ecosystem services.

The process of growth and decay of any life-form on earth is contextualized to the human habitats. The design follows the natural transition of the seasonal changes and the activities to thrive alongside the other living matter. The four seasons of summer, fall, winter and spring is utilized to grow, maintain and harvest in the different growth phases of mycelium. This in turn is associated with the species like humans and bees that depend on this living material as a source of food and shelter creating a mutual symbiosis. Mycelium needs optimized temperature and humidity to grow and maintain in dormant stage. During summer the fully grown mycelium with mushroom fruiting body is consumed by both humans and bees. The structure is regrown in the end of summer with temperature favourable for the mycelium to grow. The growth is stagnant during late autumn and winter as the mycelium remains in hibernation below 5 degrees. The growth is propagated again during summer and the cycle continues as long as it is maintained by humans and bees.

Initial inoculation of mycelium with flowering seeds suitable for the bees goes back to the soil during the renewal of the wall. This increases the biodiversity of the species which also helps the bees to navigate to the living wall.

Considering the fact that mycelium composite poses different properties based on the qualities of the cellulose substrate it digests a mix of several substrates is used in a single monolithic structure to bring in variation in the structural and finish quality suitable for the habitation of the species. A 3D printed central hollow is used to supply oxygen to maximise the growth of mycelium composite in the core.