American ecologist produces “living bricks” from fungi


One of the specialists of Stanford University discovered that the roots of ordinary fungi can be used in the most unusual areas of human life. For example, in construction.

Philip Ross is an artist and lecturer at Stanford University, who not only studies fungi, but pays close attention to their individual element – mycelium. This is a wide and complex net of root-like threads, usually growing underground. It turns out they have an unlimited number of application fields. According to the scientist’s expertise in the field of fungi, the dried mycelium can become an excellent raw material for many constructions in the field of real estate. For example, Ross uses mycelium to grow building blocks. The main properties of mycelium, which help the scientist produce blocks – fire resistance and high strength.


By the way, we are not talking about fungi that grow in the forest, but about fungi, which tend to appear on a damp wall indoors. In most cases, people treat this phenomenon badly, and try to get out of it as quickly as possible. Ross tries to fight this kind of antipathy, proving to people that the fungus is not harmful at all. The tests, conducted by him, show that the mycelium can be an excellent building material, not to mention its artistic value. The photo presented below is an excellent proof.


“I’ve done a lot of engineering tests over the past year. This was part of the patenting process to understand what exactly makes fungi grow stronger and what does not. And I came to the conclusion that this process can be used for a large number of applications, from simple things like furniture and building materials, on out to the forms for growing human organs, organic energy accumulators and even computers. So they can become a lot of things. It’s kind of plastic, which you can then use for anything you want,” Ross explained to us.

Of course, it can not be said that the mycelium can fully replace concrete in the construction industry on a global scale. But the blocks from the mycelium can firmly occupy their niche in this area. The niche’s name is environmental friendliness. After all, the so-called “living bricks” are absolutely harmless to humans and the environment. Also their main practical application is a substitute for plastic from petroleum products – as biomaterials produced locally. In the long term, Ross hopes to build a whole house of mycro-bricks, which can accommodate up to 20 people. Most likely it will be a reishi – the favorite species of Ross and his colleagues.

In addition, the mycelium can be grown in any desired form. And you do not need much money – you need a certain amount of nutrients and something like sawdust or shell from pistachios. Mycelium grows with its substrate, so Ross can make it grow into any shape. And do not worry – each block undergoes heat treatment, so all organisms die. Even if the moisture still falls on such bricks, the fungi will not suddenly sprout again.

In the end, the talented master found application of the mycelium even in art. For a long time, Ross grew fungi sculptures for art exhibitions and museums around the world.