Replacing standard building blocks and standard construction process with biological bricks and grown buildings. The building block is a fully grown module with the capacity to be stacked and manipulated to create self-standing structures.
What is the problem I am trying to solve?
Since the inception of building construction, the processes involved a daunting amount of material and energy consumption. All the while, living things homed in their natural habitat have been adapting their own colonies and communities through appropriating natural and organic material. The creation of these natural habitats is not defined as construction but as growth. Grown structures merge with nature more efficiently than constructed ones. Grown structures are not static, but a composition of materials that grow and age.
What is the design and how does it works?
The GBB is a brick-sized module made from organic materials. Its dimensions and shape mean that it can integrate into other typical built-up construction systems. In fact, it is less demanding once it’s stacked, relative to bricks that require mortar. It is more sustainable, creates no harm to the environment, and there is an abundance of resources required to make it. The GBB is relatively low tech and does not require much energy to produce, as most of the ingredients grow naturally in the wild. Mycelium acting as the bonding material is required to grow invasively within the formwork. This opens up many possibilities, as the formwork is currently brick-sized but can also take multiple different forms.
The process started with an intention to promote a new way of thinking about material design, one that seamlessly integrates biomaterials and structural features. Since the start, I was using various CAD softwares and design tools to attempt multiple techniques to simulate some of the processes discovered in found natural objects, such as honey comb, corals, mushrooms, and crystals. The process involved attempts of integration between material performance and physical modeling using hands-on experiments. Throughout the process, I aimed to seek and integrate environmentally aware, computational, and form-generating processes. Here are conclusions that were made after several experiments. Mycelium growth is fastest within moist environment, relatively low air pressure, and a temperature between 18-21 °C. The process of converting the mycelium-grown composite to a usable module involves deactivating the mycelium. This results in the mycelium acting as an embedded structural component. The wood chips are meant to maintain a structural rigidity in the unit. Mycelium’s hydrophobic fibrous features keeps it water resistant. The mycelium should be left to colonize the substrate until it creates at least 2mm thickness above it. As the material is structurally sound with capacity to self-sustain, the effective application is stackable blocks.
How is this unique?
Currently the most common building blocks are concrete-based. Compared to the GBB, they are energy-intensive to produce. I seek to shift the application of building-block production from a form-based approach to an environmentally-based approach where form is driven by its structural and environmental conditions. Unique form, much like nature, is triggered by natural forces and by organic behavior. Properties of the mycelium-based blocks will manage and discipline their own ability to maintain and store data resulting in a self-recurring, self-designing, and self-generating form. The afterlife of the GBB is simply recyclable and biodegradable. Relative to concrete-based building blocks, the GBB requires minimal energy and efforts to dispose. The GBB has proven its strength compared to others, despite being a lighter material given the same volume.