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‘More than Human Adventure’ is the theme of the Exhibition for the 2022 Shenzhen Biennale, titled Urban Cosmologies. In response to the theme, Studio Link-Arc proposes to explore the intersection between living organisms and architecture.
Mycelia (mushrooms) are living, root-like structures that can sometimes cover thousands of acres. They have tremendous abilities to survive and adapt to various environments and their demands. In this installation, the firm aims to reflect, visualize, and learn from such organisms to adapt the languages and techniques of architecture to the future.
Using the language of construction, this installation explores relationships between architecture and an ecosystem that is mostly unknown. The aim is to dissolve boundaries and create a symbiosis, or a collaboration between both realms. The inverted-pyramid shape flips traditional views on its head, illustrating the existence of second natures, double functionality, duplicate purposes, man-made and nature, present and future, and finally growth and decay. A symbol that is also an anti-symbol.
The installation consists of 400 hanging mushroom bricks, which is a renewable and bio-degradable material. Bricks are grown, rather than manufactured. Using an agricultural waste straw, bagasse, and wheat bran as substrate, mycelium grows naturally and, in time, solidifies. The end result is a material with enough structural strength and plasticity that, under the right temperature and humidity, can be grown into any shape. Once its life as construction material ends, several months in the soil will see the complete degradation of the mushroom brick, thus being no burden to the environment.
The exhibition takes place in a converted old brewery, with gallery spaces between continuous concrete frames. The indoor-outdoor space provides an ideal place for mushroom bricks to absorb moisture from the air. In addition, a pool is created under the installation to provide a moist micro-climate.
The mycelia will be deactivated in the manufacturing process. To compensate, the team selected some bricks to grow fresh mushrooms after assembly. The hope is to make this installation part of the sustainable ecological cycle, a man-made device that grows and evolves as a living organism.