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Constructing Ecosystems Topic 2: Urban Mycelium Living Unit

Supervisor(s) Jan Wurm
Campus (BXL/Ghent) BXL
Language (EN/NL) EN
Studio or individual? Individual
Max number of students? 1


Description of the project:

This master dissertation is set at the interface between architectural design, engineering and biology and runs in parallel with an individual master dissertation in field of architectural engineering at VUB under guidance of Prof Lars de Laet.

The objective is to design a scalable, modular temporary bio-based urban living unit that manifests circular urban metabolisms of Brussels. Key materials are mycelium based composites (MBC), cultivated on local urban waste streams and locally grown timber materials. The dissertation should develop a design and processing approach based a systematic understanding of available substrate materials, bio-fabrication processes, and the restraints and benefits of MBC. The design and manufacturing of a prototype should demonstrates the qualities of the design approach.

This architecturally focused dissertation should address:

  • Typology: what is a suitable context and application? What are the boundary conditions and requirements? Develop a design brief and identify suitable locations for pilot projects.
  • Whole Life Cycle Design: develop a methodology from harvesting/collecting base materials and cultivating substrates up to assembly and adaptation the Urban Mycelium Living Unit.
  • Demonstrator Design: develop a design approach that takes the constraints imposed by the mycelium composites into account. Test the approach through design of a demonstrator project for a chosen location.
  • Building Components: experimental development of specific material compositions for different building components (wall, floor, ceiling/roof, etc).
  • Detailing: design the building system in detail, developing methodologies to connect building components and incorporate required details during growth stage.
  • Prototyping: synthesize findings through design and making of a prototype

The dissertation of the VUB student that runs in parallel will focus on the technical and engineering aspect of the mycelium based composites selected for the Urban Mycelium Living Unit. The student of Faculty of Architecture is strongly encouraged to collaborate with VUB student.

Limited lab space to carry out mycelium bio fabrication can be provided at the Department of Biology, Arenberg Campus Leuven.

Expected output:

  • Dissertation Booklet presenting research, including all documentation
  • Series of material samples
  • Prototype of a 1:1 building component
  • Design Study Demonstration project including environmental impact assessment

Study trip? (+ timing):

  • No mandatory study trip, but visits to research institutions and related start-ups (Permafungi, fairm, mycelia, grown.bio etc) is encouraged and supported
  • Highly encouraged to pro-actively collaborate with student at VUB (not mandatory)


References/Further reading:

Literature List will be provided to student


Reference for the image: Growing Pavilion, Almere 2022, Concept: Pascal Leboucq & Lucas De Man & Eric Klarenbeek (Klarenbeek & Dros), Image Credit: Jan Wurm