Monday, June 17, 2019

These architectural arches are grown in a lab



As blogged on, mushrooms have become many designers’ favorite food. But not because of how they taste: the root of mushrooms, called mycelium, can be used to make an organic material that’s sturdy enough to use in chairsbuildings, and even cities. It’s also been used to create faux leather, lab-grown meat, and even 3D-printed organs.

But mycelium doesn’t have to be purely practical: This year at the world’s largest design fair in Milan, Carlo Ratti Associati designed a series of elegant, 13-foot-high arches made out of one kilometer (or .6 miles) of the material. The 60 arches, which are artfully arranged in groups over a path in Milan’s botanical garden, were grown with the help of the Dutch Krown Bio lab over the course of two months. They create a whimsical architectural element in the gardens that looks right out of Alice in Wonderland.

The arches were designed using a technique called the inverted catenary method, which was invented in the 18th century to create compression structures–like arches–and later popularized by Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi. The technique involves hanging the arches upside down first to find their natural curve before turning them upright. After determining the ideal shape, the designers packed the mycelium into molds around a light wooden core before letting it grow and then dry.

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