Living buildings

I think iScreen shot 2014-05-09 at 08.17.00t was the science fiction writer Harry Harrison who first proposed the idea of genetically engineered buildings: you plant a seed, and in 24 hours it grows into the building you want, according to the design embedded in the seed.

This summer, a step towards that idea will be built in New York. A new cooling tower is to be built in the courtyard of the Museum of Modern Art.

It will not grow by itself, but most of the bricks used will be made of mushroom cells and corn stalks. Once wet, the mushrooms grow through the matrix of corn, and mesh with each other. Heat treatment then stops the growth and forms a stable brick. (The same approach can form packaging materials, in any shape.)

Building this way is cheap, light, requires no mining, creates no waste. And at the end of the building’s life it can be converted into useful compost.

Once they’ve done this, what will they do next?



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