We're closer to fungus than we think. The topsoil of our planet is practically held together by a global network of fungal mycelium, and even though the animal kingdom branched off from its fungal counterpart some 600 million years ago, we still share over half our DNA with fungi. Historically, culturally, and biologically, we are incredibly close to mushrooms.That closeness can be exploited to our benefit: many powerful antibiotics against bacteria come from fungi, while anti-fungal antibiotics tend to harm us, precisely because of our interlinked relationship with mushrooms.All it takes to build one of Phil Ross' fungal bricks is some organic matter, like agricultural waste or sawdust, and a tiny piece of mushroom. As the fungus consumes the nutrients in the sawdust, the fine threads of its mycelium wind into a solid block of cells, which can be formed into any shape so long as they remain alive. Put two living fungal bricks next to each other, and they will fuse together in an unbreakable bond within a matter of hours. Cure the material to stop the fungus' growth, et voilà: bulletproof mushroom slab.
We're closer to fungus than we think
Ross is more artist than businessman, and is mostly jazzed on the increased visibility. "We're about to see a proliferation of even more fantastic objects into the world that are made out of this stuff," he tells me.Speaking to Phil Ross, I found myself completely seduced by the idea of living surrounded by this formidable fungal material. How marvelous to build in collaboration with nature—to allow the strength of a living thing to forge the walls and floors of a place meant for living. When might I be able to grow my own home? I posed the question to Ross. Surprisingly, the answer is: soon."We can build a house right now" says Ross. "We know how to build the structures and forms to do it. We can plan, from what we know about the material, and make engineering drawings based on its physical qualities."
We can build a house right now