Are the concrete buildings we build actually a sign of architectural progress? Defunct housing projects abandoned shopping malls, and short-sighted urban projects are more often than not doomed to a lifetime of emptiness after they have served their purpose. Their concrete remains and transforms into a lingering reminder of what was once a symbol of modern ambition. Stadiums and their legacies, in particular, come under high scrutiny of how their giant structures get used after the games are over, with few Olympic stadiums making successful transitions into everyday life. With a new approach to sustainability, the Shell Mycelium pavilion is part of a manifesto towards a more critical take on building. Say the designers on their position: “We criticize these unconscious political choices, with living buildings, that arise from nature and return to nature, as though they never existed.”
The Shell Mycelium Pavillion is a collaboration between BEETLES 3.3 and Yassin Areddia Designs and offers an alternative to conscious design through temporary structures. Located at the MAP Project space at the Dutch Warehouse, the pavillion formed part of the Kochi Muziris Biennale 2016 Collateral in India. Read on for more information from the architects:
From the architects: In an era of concrete jungles and overcrowded cities, degradability, sustainability, and liability become parts of the responsibility of architecture. It is an innovation in the field of biology and architecture, a concept that stresses the need for temporariness. A way of mimicking nature to forge our path onward, where existence questions permanence. Mycelium is the vegetative part of a fungus like mushrooms and it is being touted for the first time in India.
Planting a seed
“Architecture is a permanent sign in any territory. During major events like the Olympic games, expos, FIFA world cups, multiple structures are constructed. In most of the cases, the structures constructed are permanent, making use of heavy construction material. This approach leads to many practical difficulties in demolition and disposal. Many of the structures are erected as a sign of the prosperity and strength of a nation’s economy and the cities unconsciously pay the price. At the end of the event, after the entire world has danced and celebrated, the city remains a scarred body, devoid of life. The city is ravaged and the ghost town that is left behind takes decades to metabolize. We criticize these unconscious political choices, with living buildings that arise from nature and return to nature, as though they never existed.”
“The degradation movement in architecture upholds the biologic, the logic for a degradable need.”
The installation is site specific which means that not just the display area was considered, but local labor and materials as well. They started off with research at a local mushroom farm. Experiments led to the selection of the right mushroom and study of growth patterns. The wooden structure for the Shell Mycelium installation was designed to sit within the degrading Dutch Warehouse. A reflection of sorts. The openness was an invitation to explore and the structure was designed to disintegrate according to their design. The structure was then covered in coir pith which contained the fungus. After a few days of tending, the mycelium grew and formed a snowy covering over the structure. The top layer died due to sunlight and formed a shell that protects the bottom layers. As the Biennale came to a close, the structure had slowly started to disintegrate, while curious visitors experience it.
A living installation that shows that everything that is born must grow and then die.
“The shell pavilion is a pavilion made of spores and the wooden structure forms the growing ground. The mycelium eat it, merge with it, transform it and grow through it. The pavilion will be a building, which after it is born, will grow along with its visitors, and die once its purpose is fulfilled. The only remains left behind are the experience left under it.” – Degradation Movement
- Architect’ Firm: BEETLES 3.3 – Yassin Areddia Designs
- Website: www.degradationmovement.org
- Lead Architects: Giombattista Areddia – Asif Rahman – Mohamad Yassin
- Project location:
- Completion Year: 2017
- Gross Built Area (square meters or square foot): 80 m2
- Photographer’s website:
- Other participants: collaborators: arch. Nikhil Ommen Mani
- from Beetles 3.3 architecture: Andrea, Riji, Albin, Aswathy, Yasin, Aneesh, Usha, Amina Zulfi
- construction: Baboy
- carpenters: Ansen and Viju
- construction support : Rohit Thomas