Maria Gutierrez & Elise Zilius
The Anthropocene has stripped the planet of its resources, leaving behind an abundance of contamination. Construction methods have failed to evolve concurrently to the intense accumulation of waste; remaining firmly rooted in the materiality of the past, they have upheld architectural notions of stagnancy, cleanliness, and hygiene, ignoring the rapidly changing conditions of the environment. The built environment no longer meets the standards set by our turbulent planet. Humankind has lost the privilege of agency in design and construction.
This investigation uses contamination to fuel mycelial growth and create emergent forms whilst executing remediation strategies for contaminated sites. Harnessing mycelium’s digestive power to decompose toxic waste and pollutants, this investigation presents a new method of construction. Environmental contamination and destruction will now serve a material purpose in architecture, redefining the concept of ‘waste’ as ‘resource’. This ideological shift accepts its visual manifestation of repugnance and defies the firmly established notions of hygiene and cleanliness so deeply rooted in the visual language of our society. Designing with living organisms restructures the deeply rooted hierarchy in architectural processes relegating man from sole decision-maker to indirect contributor. Employing nature’s cyclical processes of growth and decay, this constantly evolving architecture will unseat humankind’s stagnant ideas of space. As environmental contamination continues to grow, the resultant architecture will morph in accordance. Incorporating living material in the form of mycelial hybrids into design practice, this investigation explores the material and architectural possibilities of living and evolving structures.