While the idea of living in a house made of mushrooms might conjure up visions from the Smurfs or one of a handful of whimsical houses across the country, artist/inventor turned mycologist Phil Ross is using mushrooms as the buildings blocks for a new construction material with some distinct advantages.
Ross has dedicated his career to the organism, recently discovering that its root-like network lying just underground is quite similar to concrete when dried, but actually stronger. The dried mycelium can be shaped into a brick, or almost any other form, and is fire, water and even mold resistant.
Currently Ross is building a lab at The Workshop Residence in San Francisco where he’s growing fungi for a series of stools and chairs (see gallery below). He has previously presented his research into “Mycotecture” in the form of a six-foot-tall arch in Germany, appropriately serving mushroom tea at the reception. The arch was formed from the ganoderma lucidum fungus grown at a farm in Monterey, California. The mushroom fungus was shaped into hard, lightweight blocks that can tolerate a variety of glossy finishes and lacquers. Ross is continuing his research with a goal to create a shelter that can house up to 20 people with more complex geometry.