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Inverted Architecture: A Mushroom Brick Pyramid

‘More than Human Adventure’ is the theme of our Exhibition for the 2022 Shenzhen Biennale, titled Urban Cosmologies. In response to the theme Studio Link-Arc proposes to explore the intersection between living organisms and architecture.

Mycelium (mushroom) is a living root-like structure that can sometimes cover thousands of acres. It has tremendous abilities to survive and adapt to various environment and its demands. In this installation we aim to reflect, visualize and learn from such organisms, adapting the languages and techniques of architecture towards the future.

Using the language of construction, this installation explores relationships between architecture and an ecosystem that is mostly unknown. The aim is to dissolve boundary and create a symbiosis, a collaboration between both realms. The inverted-pyramid shape flips traditional views on its head, illustrating the existence of second natures, double functionality, duplicate purposes, man-made and nature, present and future, and finally growth and decay. A symbol that is also an anti-symbol.

The installation consists of 400 hanging mushroom bricks, a renewable and bio-degradable material. Bricks are grown rather than manufactured. Using agricultural waste straw, bagasse, wheat bran as substrate, mycelium grows naturally and in time solidifies. The end result is a material with enough structural strength and plasticity that, under the right temperature and humidity, can grow into any shape. Once its life as construction material ends, several months in the soil will see complete degradation of the mushroom brick. There is no burden to the environment.

The exhibition takes place in a converted old brewery, with gallery spaces between continuous concrete frame. The indoor-outdoor space provides an ideal place for mushroom bricks to absorb moisture from the air. In addition, a pool is created under the installation to provide a moist micro-climate.

The mycelium will be deactivated in the manufacturing process. To compensate we selected some bricks to grow fresh mushrooms within after assembly. The hope is to make this installation part of the sustainable ecological cycle, a man-made device that grows and evolves as a living organism.


Project Location: Shenzhen, China
Exhibition Duration: Dec 10, 2022-March 12, 2023
Chief Architect: Yichen Lu
Project Manager: Shiyu Guo, Luis Ausin, Simeng Qin, Zhenwei Zhong
Project Team: Letty Lau, Zida Liu, Lingyun Yang, Zeynep Ugur, Rui Zhou, Chenhao Ma, Xiaoxuan Hu, Yu Lai, Shawlon Hsieh
Biological Technology Support: Bio-Loop
Photos: Yu Bai, Chao Zhang

Sponsor: Shenzhen Municipal People’s Government
Undertaker: Shenzhen Planning and Natural Resources Bureau, Shenzhen Luohu District People’s Government
Executed by: Guangdong Yuehai Land Group Co., Ltd
Supported by: Shenzhen Biennale Public Art Foundation, Shenzhen Urban Planning and Design Institute
Special Fund Support: Shenzhen Cultural Industry Development Special Fund
Chief Curators: Lu Andong, Wang Zigeng, Chen Bokang