Dominik Einfalt

How do I handle living material?

Supply, Cut, Build

Building a living architectural structure is challenging and needs a lot of research. To start with: What kind of material do we want to use exactly, where do we get it, and how do we handle it the right way? 


Pile of pressed building blocks - Dominik Einfalt

What are those bricks?

The bricks that we use are growing bags from an Oyster mushroom farmer in the Netherlands named John Verbruggen. When we picked up the bricks they consisted 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.


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.


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 perfect place! It's important to realize that sometimes blocks aren't fitting in the row you are 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.


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.