carlo ratti unveils architectural structures made of mushrooms for milan design week
 

carlo ratti unveils architectural structures made of mushrooms for milan design week

carlo ratti associati has unveiled a series of architectural structures made of mushrooms, which has been presented as part of milan design week 2019. the installation, called ‘the circular garden,’ was grown over the past six weeks — and will be returned to the soil at the end of the month. each of the four structures is composed of a sequence of arches, that together comprise one kilometer of mycelium. the project experiments with sustainable structures that can grow organically and then return to nature in a fully circular way.

carlo ratti mycelium
image by marco beck peccoz (also main image)

 

 

developed in partnership with energy company eni, the structure is located within brera’s orto botanico — the city’s botanical garden. ‘people have been using mycelium on a small scale, making bricks and packaging and so on, but something at this scale had never been done before,’ carlo ratti told designboom at the installation’s opening. ‘the reason we built it with catenaries is that the material hasn’t been studied that much from a structural point of view. antoni gaudí discovered that if you make catenaries, and you turn them upside down, you get pure compression structures — that’s where the shape came from.’

carlo ratti mycelium
image by marco beck peccoz

 

 

the circular garden pushes the boundaries of mycelium, which is the fibrous root of mushrooms. ‘mycelium is getting more and more applications everywhere,’ continues ratti. ‘I believe IKEA is using it for packaging, and people are using it for bottles of wine. but for us it was more to start thinking about what happens when we use it at an architectural scale. during salone so much waste is produced — I really hate it. last year we made a pavilion that was all recyclable, but there is so much waste that is produced this week — like any temporary fair.’

carlo ratti mycelium
image by marco beck peccoz

 

 

the circular garden engages with mycelium at the architectural scale — with a series of 60 4-meter-high arches made scattered around the botanical garden. ‘I really love this place, it is one of my favorite places in milan,’ says carlo ratti, who is also a professor at MIT. ‘it is a piece of countryside in the center of the city. but because it is so protected we couldn’t bring in real spores, so we had to dry the structures in the oven to make sure we were not introducing things to the garden’s ecosystem. so we had to do an additional part of production, which is not only growing the mycelium, but also drying it.’

carlo ratti mycelium
image © designboom

 

 

the mycelium was grown in the two months preceding the opening of the circular garden with the help of leading experts in the field of mycology — particularly the dutch krown.bio lab. spores were injected into organic material to start the growth process. ‘a garden has always been a place where everything comes from the earth, and then goes back to the earth,’ ratti continues. ‘the broader topic we wanted to explore was: can we do an installation that is like a real mushroom? so that in eight weeks it grows, before being shredded and returned to the earth.’


image © designboom

 

 

‘it was an experiment to try to do that at the scale of architecture,’ explains carlo ratti. ‘I dream of a future when architecture could grow like a plant. a plant’s code is so much smarter and for us it was a way to explore that.’ the installation, which is part of the INTERNI human spaces exhibition, remains open at the orto botanico until april 19, 2019.


image by marco beck peccoz


image © designboom


image by marco beck peccoz


image © designboom


image by marco beck peccoz


image by marco beck peccoz


image by marco beck peccoz


image by marco beck peccoz

 

 

project info:

 

name: the circular garden
location: orto botanico di brera, milan, italy
dates: april 8-19, 2019, 10AM-10PM
design: CRA-carlo ratti associati
client: eni
artistic consultancy: italo rota
CRA team: carlo ratti, giovanni de niederhausern, saverio panata (project manager), luca giacolini, alessandro tassinari, nicola scaramuzza
CRA make team: alessandro peretti griva, carlo turati, corrado castiglioni, luca cianfriglia
mycologist consultants: krown
photography: marco beck peccoz

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