Mushrooms Hold Potential for Sustainable Building Materials

A woman cuts mushrooms from the ground. (photo: Young Germany)
A woman cuts mushrooms from the ground. (photo: Young Germany)


Lou Corpuz-Bosshart | | Reader Supported News | April 23, 2016

e slice them on pizza, toss them in salad and sauté them in stirfry. But have you ever thought about using mushrooms as furniture? According to the work of a team of researchers, the humble fungus is ready to leave the kitchen and take up a role as a building material.

In an innovative design project, six new stylish benches have been installed outside the UBC Bookstore. Assembled from light-coloured honeycomb-shaped bricks under a top of clear acrylic, the seats are more than an eye-catching spot where students can relax—they’re also very much alive, grown from a blend of oyster mushroom spores and alder sawdust packed into moulds.

The roots of the project stretch back to 2014, when assistant professor at UBC School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture Joe Dahmen and his partner in work and life, Amber Frid-Jimenez, Canada Research Chair in Design and Technology at Emily Carr University of Art and Design, were expecting their second child. They had been working on an architectural installation fabricated of recycled polystyrene blocks—not exactly the most benign material —when they decided to explore more eco-friendly options.

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