Each year, massive chunks of effort and expense go into the hasty construction of one-time event venues and the related structures and installations. Not long after the event itself, most of these constructions are abandoned and lay wasting away. The carbon footprints they leave far outweigh their functions. The olympic games are a standing example of such wastage. The Montreal Olympic Stadium has been dubbed ‘The Big Mistake’, budgeted at $ 128 million, and never seeing completion, finally getting scraped at an expense of $1.4 billion.
Nearly $2 billion was spent to build 12 permanent and eight temporary venues for the Beijing Olympic Games, over seven years of planning and construction. While the waste was just a tad bit lesser than the aftermath of the Athens Olympics, it is considerable. And what’s more, these locations weren’t always empty spaces, they used to be large public areas bustling with life. The significant effort at developing bio-degradable and environment friendly alternatives for traditional construction materials, then, is understandable.
A group of Indian and Italian architects have come together in a collaboration to make a temporary pavilion out of mushroom mycelium. Mycelium is the lowest part of the mushroom, responsible for propagation. It is the part below the visible stalk, and can grow voraciously in ideal conditions, covering ground the size of several football stadiums.
Dubbed the Shell Mycelium Installation, the structure is located in Fort Kochi, which is an avid that attracts art like the Kochi Biennale. It is the brainchild of Asif Rahman of Indian studio Beetles 3.3, and Giombattista Arredia and Mohamad Yassin of Italian architecture studio Yassin Arredia Design. Their project invests in the world wide effort to introduce organic alternatives into the construction material industry.
Speaking of the wastage created by the construction of impractical and grandiose permanent structures, the team says, “This approach leads to many practical difficulties in demolition and disposal,” they continued. “At the end of the event, after the entire world has danced and celebrated, the city remains a scarred body, devoid of life. We criticise these unconscious political choices, with living buildings that arise from nature and return to nature, as though they never existed.”
“The shell pavilion is a pavilion made of spores and the wooden structure forms the growing ground,” said the designers. “The mycelium eats it, merges with it, transforms it and grows through it.” The chosen material, mushroom mycelium is a favorable material for its relative sturdiness, and rate of growth. Others, notably Eric Klarenbeek and New York based studio The Living have worked with the material, concocting successful projects using it.
Mycelium is popular with these experimental designers for its flexibility. It can be introduced into any framework, which it then continues to populate at a scalable pace. In this particular installation, which found a place at the Kochi Muzuris Biennale, the mycelium grow through the layers of dried protective coir covering, forming a white layer over the arched pavilion.