While we are used to seeing 3D printing associated with plastic and metal, more and more initiatives are combining the technology with natural materials. London design studio Blast Studio recently developed a 3D printing method using mycelium, also sometimes called shiro, which is an underground network of fungal threads or hyphae. Thanks to its additive manufacturing process, Blast Studio has designed a column called “Tree Column”. The name is derived from its ridged and wavy structure, reminiscent of tree trunks.
Measuring more than two meters high, “Tree Column” provides the strength and growth conditions necessary for the mycelium. With this project, the studio aims to provide both a structure capable of cultivating edible mushrooms but also which can be part of constructions. Paola Garnousset, co-founder of Blast Studio, explains the designers’ motivation: “Our vision is to launch a new type of living architecture that could self-repair and be harvested to feed people. The idea would be to 3D print a living structure in situ, which would be inoculated with different varieties of fungi, some with high structural resistance and others delicious.
Creating the tree column
To design “Tree Column”, Blast Studio didn’t just use mycelium. The British designers first collected used coffee cups from the streets of London, then mixed them with mushroom spawn. Additionally, to allow the mushrooms to grow, the artists incorporated paper into their bio-material. Once this step was completed, they then used a 3D printer based on extrusion technology to build the column. To do this, they printed 10 individual modules and then put them together, which ultimately resulted in “Tree Column”.
One of the main attractions of the structure is its ability to provide mushrooms as well as being used as a part of “living architecture” so to speak. After the mushrooms are grown and harvested, the column can be dried at high temperatures so that it solidifies and becomes a building block. For those who would like to see “The Tree Column” for themselves, it is temporarily on display at the Design Museum in London as part of the Waste Age exhibition. You can find out more about the project HERE.
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