© 2019 by Thora HA.   thora.arnardottir@gmail.com

MArch winter term seminar, 2019.
Masters Architectural Technology Studio at Newcastle University in the School of Architecture.
 
4th Order : Casting with living materials at the Bio Design Lab, Devonshire building.
Led by dr. Martyn Dade-Robertson, Thora H Arnardottir & Dilan Oskan.
Students: Tori Ellis, Sarah Hollywell, Josh Higginbottom, Sarah Rogers, Jack Ingham, Lydia Mills, Josie Foster

Oyster mushroom

Testing samples with fruitiing bodies of the oyster mushroom forcing themselves out of the mould.

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Vitruvius, suggested that ‘Architecture is the imitation of nature’. Through biophilia we seek forms in nature which inspire the design of new buildings and through biomimicry we seek a structural understanding of biological systems to inform the engineering of our buildings. What if we could go much further? What happens when we become Architects of nature?

We are going to play an architectural game which will allow us to explore, not only the material properties of mycelium-based materials as well as the semiotics of the material.

 

There are, broadly speaking three classical orders in Architecture: Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian. Each order is defined by a scale and characterised by columns and capitals which grow in complexity. The columns are highly abstracted trees with each order becoming more complex in terms of ornamentation – taking direct references from nature – moving from symbolic to iconic presentation.

 

 

 

If we see the classical orders, in Vitruvian terms as getting closer to an imitation of nature then what if our capital becomes nature? What will become the 4th Order?

By focuses on exploring, not only, the material properties of mycelium-based materials, but the semiotics of the material the seminar aims to define the 4th classical order after the three ancient Greek architectural columns. The Capital represents a junction between two elements and questions how the mycelium material interacts with those elements. To what extent will the mycelium take their own form?

Architecture students from level 5 and 6 concluded their exploration into building with a living material with an exhibition at the Laing Gallery. Their investigation was carried out in the Bio Design Lab at Newcastle University which allowed the students to interact and conduct experiments in a sterile and contained laboratory environment.

 

Tasks focused on utilising a living binder through mycelium, the vegetative part of a mushroom, in a variety of substrates and to analyse their structure on a microscopic level.

 

The aim was also to gain experience in the lab working with Oyster Mushroom, Pleurotus ostreatus, spawn and mixing it in with substrates into various moulds. The students were asked to design moulds that questioned the semiotics of the material and to enable, through interaction between the hyphae branching and the nutrients, the mycelium to join and form structures

 

The seminar included several lectures and workshops, hands-on laboratory practice and an exhibition at the end. 

Mycelium growth

The mycelium growth in different substrates was monitored and photographed. Here two different substrates are used: cardboard and coffee and agar with malt and beef extract.

Exhibition

Few of the exhibited artifacts showing different morphology of the mycelium material and aesthetic.