NASA’s ames research center in california’s silicon valley is currently investigating and prototyping new technologies that could grow habitable structures on the moon, mars and beyond. these technologies include fungi and mycelia, the unseen underground threads that make up the main part of the fungus.


‘right now, traditional habitat designs for mars are like a turtle — carrying our homes with us on our backs – a reliable plan, but with huge energy costs,’ said lynn rothschild, the principal investigator on the early-stage project. ‘instead, we can harness mycelia to grow these habitats ourselves when we get there.’


future astronauts might one day live in habitats that were fabricated with fungus. the revolutionary concept called myco-architecture explores the impressive properties of fungal mycelium which is, in some ways, stronger than reinforced concrete and is capable of growing and repairing itself.
video credits: NASA



by asking if future homes on the moon and mars could be made of fungi, NASA is currently envisioning a future where explorers could bring with them a compact habitat with dormant fungi that would then start growing by itself by just adding water. this is thanks to mycelia, the tiny threads that intertwine to create complex structures with extreme precision like mushrooms. under the right conditions, mycelia can be coaxed into making new structures similar to leather or even building blocks for a mars habitat.

a stool constructed out of mycelia after two weeks of growth. the next step is a baking process process that leads to a clean and functional piece of furniture. the myco-architecture project seeks to design not only for habitats, but for the furniture that could be grown inside them as well
image credits: 2018 stanford-brown-RISD iGEM team



‘when we design for space, we’re free to experiment with new ideas and materials with much more freedom than we would on earth,’ continues rothschild. ‘and after these prototypes are designed for other worlds, we can bring them back to ours.’

bricks produced using mycelium, yard waste and wood chips as a part of the myco-architecture project. Similar materials could be used to build habitats on the moon or mars
image credits: 2018 stanford-brown-RISD iGEM team



project info:


name: myco-architecture project

conducted by: NASA’s ames research center

material used: mycelia