Mycelium Lab

Growing an autopoietic architecture in Sheung Shui

Anna Li Hiu Yan
MArch thesis 2017

This thesis investigates an alternative paradigm for sustainable industrial production and speculates on architectural possibilities of a re-calibration of the world to an autopoiesis system using the medium of mycelium. As science and technology advances, the realm between physics, cybernetics and biology starts to merge. The way we live and work are being transformed, affecting and questioning current modes of production. With growing demand and ever diminishing supply, it is evident we are entering the Fourth Industrial Revolution, whereby industries have become mobile and adaptable to our environment and closes the city’s metabolic cycle. Architecture too will evolve so that it can grow, decay and grow again, having its own life cycle as a living and evolving entity creature our built environment.

Mushroom mycelium is an essential component for natural ecosystems and is responsible for the decomposition of organic material, turning waste into food, then distributing nutrients through the environment and supporting plant and animal life through symbiotic relationships. This thesis examines the formation and properties of mycelium – through understanding the material growth strategies, morphological attributes and material system – in order to open up alternative ways of designing architecture, developing a strategy for this architecture to manifest and emerge into our built environment and a generative morphology structure that multiply (grow) and spread itself to form an aggregation of open and closed spaces. Looking into both the processes of cultivation and production and using by-products from the city as a facilitator of skills, the design aims to transform the urban-rural environment into a productive environment.

Mycelium Lab is a factory prototype that facilitates mushroom and mycelium production, as a medium to both remediate the environment and also educate the community to new modes of food and architectural production. The project aims to test the concept of an architectural system that is grown via mycelium cultivation to become a framework for production and community. Using brownfield sites of the Fanling North district as a test site, the project is conceived as an adaptable architecture that evolves with its changing functions, social needs and site conditions

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