Barclay Tabone

In the carboniferous period - forests grew and died without decomposing, pulling huge quantities of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and storing it in dead trees’(Sheldrake, 2021). Resulting in large carbon stores being buried under the surface which is what we are now digging up and burning to fuel our carbon-form. Studies have found that part of the reason this carboniferous period collapse occurred was because there were no organisms to decompose the dead trees. Today, there are only a small number of organisms that have developed to decompose timber, the most prolific group are the white rot fungi. Studies have found that the white rot species ‘pleurotus ostreatus’ is the most suitable species for creating mycelium construction materials such as bricks (Elsacker et al., 2020). Additionally, this species creates the very popular ‘oyster mushroom’ which is prevalent in cuisines all around the world. Interestingly, today timber is still being wasted.

According to a Sustainability Victoria report; 500,000 tonnes of wood waste is generated annually from building, demolition and other related commercial processes in Victoria with over two thirds ending up in landfill. Why do we send this timber to landfill instead of repurposing this timber and feeding it to fungi? I believe we just lack the infrastructure at the moment.

This relationship between carbon, timber, and fungi revealed an interesting irony. Fungi or the lack thereof, inadvertently created the carbon-form problem; however fungi may also present itself as an integral component to resolving the issues. The ‘Mycelium Factory’ is a post carbon-form factory that creates a new carbon free network for the building, agriculture and waste industry. The factory will obtain waste timber from the community and turn that timber into both mycelium bricks and mushrooms. The form of this building was developed by focussing on three components; the system, the shelf and the screen.

This diagram explains the mycelium brick system both diagrammatically and formally. The system's formal verticality was governed by the parameters of the site and the scale of components. I have estimated that I would require approximately 95000 kilowatts of electricity per hour, 31 tonnes of water per hour and 4 tonnes of timber per hour to create roughly 200m2 of mycelium product per hour. This exercise highlighted some important constraints. Firstly, the autoclave apparatus is too long to run rectilinearly with the site boundaries so will need to be positioned diagonally. Secondly, the storage of both the recycled timber and the mycelium bricks are going to take a lot of floor space up. Finally, the incubation and mixing chambers need to be air tight climate controlled spaces with no exposure to sunlight.