Growing Myceliated Facades

Manufacturing and exposing experimental panels in a facade setting



Today's sustainability in architecture takes into consideration the complete life cycle of buildings and their components, from resource harvesting and material production to recycling. In recent years, the concept of living architecture has emerged and seeks to integrate principles of life to architecture to reduce resource consumption. The principle of biological growth has architectural potential such as: adaptation, resilience, dynamics, differentiation and continuous functionality. In order to optimize the building process, the principle of growth can be applied to different building stages, from material production and building construction to operation and maintenance. In this regard, biomimetics and biotechnology serve as methods of transferring biology to architecture by abstracting and using principles in artificial systems, and by integrating living organisms into the design and production process. This paper presents existing projects that use biological organisms in various stages of material production, building construction, operation and maintenance. A case study on myceliated material, where fungal mycelium is grown on agricultural waste, was carried out and provides an explanation of this process and its potential. Mycelium functions as a connecting network, solidifying otherwise amorphous substrate. Panels targeting diverse architectural functions can be made from myceliated panels by changing growth conditions and post-growth treatments. This case study focused on scaling the mycelium growth process up from laboratory scale to large panels that were implemented in an outdoor environment as a prototypical facade. In conclusion, despite the lack of actual growth in today's buildings, growth using biological organisms is well-discussed and an expanding field. The case study showcases the potential of implementing biological organisms in facade prototypes to serve in material production and building operation stages. These research projects bring the integration of biological systems in architecture one step closer to changing current practices in the building industry.


Photo of Thibaut Houette, M. Arch.

Thibaut Houette, M. Arch.

Integrated Bioscience PhD student

University of Akron

Photo of Brian Foresi

Brian Foresi

Biomedical Sciences (BS/MD) student

University of Akron

Photo of Christopher Maurer, AIA, NCARB

Christopher Maurer, AIA, NCARB

Founder and Principal Architect

Redhouse Studio

Photo of Dr. Petra Gruber

Dr. Petra Gruber

Assoc. Prof.

University of Akron



Numerous architects and research groups discuss the concept of living architecture and seek to integrate principles of life to architecture in order to reduce resource consumption (Beesley, Hastings, and Bonnemaison

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Materials and Methods

Manufacturing the myceliated panels

The major parameters about manufacturing studied in this research were the substrate on which the mycelium was grown, the sterilization method and the growth environment. All batches

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Results of the manufacturing process

The resulting growth of the myceliated panels was assessed at specific points in time to compare the efficiency of the manufacturing methods. The amount of elm

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Discussion on manufacturing the myceliated panels

Many variables were applied to this manufacturing process in order to identify promising pathways for follow-up projects. As the overview scheme in Figure 6 describes

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Conclusion and Future Work

For the myceliated panels production, the optimal combination was made of red oak saw dust with soy hull and gypsum, which was pasteurized and grown in tents allowing air exchange

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This study was part of the Living Wall System project supported by The University of Akron, with a Faculty Research Grant 2018. The LIWAS team was composed of Petra Gruber, Thibaut Houette, Ariana Rupp and Brian Foresi. The manufacturing process was carried out in collaboration with and using facilities of redhouse studio, with principal architect Christopher Maurer. The authors would like to thank Jeff Spencer, Lara Roketenetz and Claudia Naményi for the installation of the prototype at The University of Akron's field station at the Bath Nature Preserve. All images are copyright of the authors, unless stated otherwise.

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Author Comments

Thibaut Houette1 *, Brian Foresi1, Christopher Maurer2, Petra Gruber3

1 Department of Biology, The University of Akron, 235 Carroll Street, Akron, OH 44325, USA

2 redhouse studio, 1455 West 29th Street, Cleveland, OH 44113, USA

3 Biomimicry Research and Innovation Center, Myers School of Art and Department of Biology, The University of Akron, 150 East Exchange Street, Akron, OH 44325, USA