Dominik Einfalt

How do I handle living material?

Cutting, Building, Achieving

Building a living architectural structure can be challenging and it already starts with a problem, what kind of material we want to use and how do we get it.

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PT Pile of Bricks -

What are those bricks?

The bricks we are using are used growing bags from an Oyster mushroom farmer in the Netherlands named John Verbruggen. When we pick them up the bricks consists of fermented straw which is already completely colonized with a type of Oyster mushroom in a plastic bag.

A living organism?

When we get the bricks, the blocks are still alive. Just because they aren't efficient anymore for a commercial mushroom farmer, does not mean they won't grow mushrooms anymore and they are far far away from being dead! That is why it is important to treat them as they are: a block with a living being inside.  

Handling the blocks

The most important thing when handling these blocks: never storage them into big piles! Because they are still living they also produce heat. That's fine as long as the surrounding air can cool it down. When you start stacking them in big piles the heat-production will be too much and your mushroom will die.

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PT blocks -

How to cut it?

The bricks can be sawed in your preferred form quite easily, by just using a common wood-saw. The cut should be as precise as possible and especially the edges of the forms should be sharp to provide good bricks to build the tower.

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Arne Hendriks sawing some Mycelium blocks into building blocks - Dominik Einfalt

Building a living Tower

Take your time. One block at a time. Each block is different, each block behaves differently and each block will find it's the perfect place! It's important to realize that sometimes blocks aren't fitting in the row you are just building. Keep them for the next row or the row after. Try to have a look if the tower is tilting after each row and try to fix it as fast as possible.

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PT building -

How to achieve an octagonal shape?

By cutting each block just once an octagonal shape can be created. We found 5 different ways of creating an octagonal shape with the bricks. These can be used in different rhythms to form the tower you want to build. Read more here.