In the Heeley Mushroom Project, Studio Polpo are designing and building a mushroom pavilion to explore the use of mycelium in architecture. 

Working with children from a local school, the project also imaginatively explores ideas around nature, waste and low carbon construction.

The Heeley Mushroom Project involves the creation of an architectural structure made from locally sourced untreated timber, with timber dowels supporting mycelium panels made by Studio Polpo and pupils at Anns Grove Primary School, Sheffield.

Testing materials for the panels

Studio Polpo have been testing various uses of mycelium over the last 12 months.  Initially they used a ready-mixed straw/mycelium substrate, then they moved on to investigate the growth of Oyster mushroom spores on a variety of different formers and substrates, from straw and construction waste to shredded cardboard. 

Testing a ready-mix | Growing Oyster mushroom on straw | Two views of a large test panel with fungi 
Using ready mix substrate Testing the growth of Oyster mushroom on straw Large panel test with fungi Large panel test with fungi - top view

Recent experiments have resulted in successful growth of mushrooms using waste cardboard as the substrate, producing a lightweight, stiff panel material which is weather resistant and compostable.

Test objects made with mycelium were displayed at a community festival on the site of the pavilion this summer, leading to a number of wide ranging and engaging conversations on everything from food and sustainable construction to fairytales!

Exploring the use of fungi

The children of Anns Grove Primary will be making their panels using waste card from the school and nearby area, and observing the mycelium as it grows. Discussions with a fungus expert from the British Mycological Society and workshops with artist Sally Barker will help the children explore creative ideas around their work.

Building the  mushroom pavilion

Visual of the mushroom pavilionThe timber structure will be assembled in Heeley, Sheffield ahead of a day-long event in which the children will bring and affix their panels.

The resulting mushroom pavilion will be available for all to view for a weekend before being relocated to the school, where it is hoped that the children can continue the project by watching the growth or decay of the panels, and making new ones as needed.

Studio Polpo.jpgThe Heeley Mushroom Project is part of a larger, longer-term project initiated by Studio Polpo and theatre company the Handlebards, to ‘grow’ community performance infrastructure using living materials from trees to fungus.

Follow  Studio Polpo on Twitter: @StudioPolpo