by AIA New York
The Mycelium Project, an initiative between the AIANY Custom Residential Architects Network (CRAN), Silman, Kansas State University, and the Glass House, has launched an augmented reality experience at the Center for Architecture, allowing visitors to better understand the formal qualities and architectural applications of this organic material.
In July 2019, Scientific American declared, “The mycelium revolution is upon us. It’s the fungus mushrooms are made of, but it can also produce everything from plastics to plant-based meat to scaffolding for growing organs—and much more.” Materials made of mycelium, the cellular fabric that makes up the roots of mushrooms, are incredibly strong, lightweight, self-adhesive, and carbon-absorbing, meaning they absorb carbon as they are manufactured.
Through a series of programs and workshops, the Mycelium Project has explored how homes could one day be retrofitted, remodeled, and restored using mycelium components. In August 2020, CRAN hosted a 300-attendee webinar featuring an international panel of leading educators and mycelium entrepreneurs. The initiative also included a three-part workshop with MYCO MATTERS LAB at Kansas State University. A coalition of mycelium experts, building science engineers, structural engineers, architects, and students explored the use of mycelium in residential architecture projects, developing prototypes for a hypothetical residential commission.
The final workshop prototype, titled Corōlla, is a shading device designed for the Sculpture Gallery at the Glass House, the historic home of architect Philip Johnson and his life partner David Whitney. The structure, which features sound and pollutant-absorbing mycelium petals suspended by a matrix of interlocking bamboo rings, provides shade from the summer sun while softening the interior’s harsh acoustics. Corōlla’s interlocking matrix is inspired by the entangled structure of mycelial networks, while the structure’s flower-like form alludes to the performative relationship between a mushroom’s cap and gills. Its form also represents a fabrication logic specific to mycelium, which is capable of producing free-form geometries without relying on wasteful formwork.
While CRAN hopes that Corōlla may someday be installed on-site, in the meantime, we invite visitors to experience the augmented reality installation developed by Silman and SHoP Architects.
To experience Corōlla at the Center for Architecture, proceed to Tafel Hall, located on the basement of our space, and follow the instructions on the Mycelium Project posters, located on the southern wall of the lecture hall.