The Mithun team’s fascination with MycoWorks’ mycelium products stems from our interest in biomimicry and sustainable building practices. The revolutionary shift in building materials that we have seen in recent years is an exciting expression of remembering where we came from. Our underlying theme in our Park(ing) Day installation, the first partnership between Mithun + MycoWorks, was exactly this. We explored the idea that taking back a parking spot to install a park was a reminder that before there was pavement, there was grass and dirt… and mushrooms! We populated our parklet with furniture made up of MycoWorks mycelium forms, a medium which is as durable as wood, yet draws on a more sustainable practice, using already-discarded wood chips to feed and culture the mushrooms. The result, once the mushroom roots have intertwined and expanded into a light yet dense form, is a highly resilient (and virtually fire-proof!) structural medium. At the same time, with a few alterations (like running it through a wood chipper), the mycelium form is a highly compostable building component, easily returned to the earth.
The mycelium products that Phil and his team have been developing come in multiple forms. The forms are created by the mushroom itself, which has grown in and around wood chips and sawdust into any mold, then baked to stop the growing process. Any of these forms can be coated with lacquer if desired. Alternatively, the MycoWorks team has been experimenting with the mycelium as a composite fill for plywood, bamboo, and counter-top veneer. These composite panels perform fantastically under compression, and the mycelium is naturally an acoustic insulator, as well as an extremely lightweight option in comparison to any traditional wood-composite panel.
The project we are proposing for the 2015 Prototyping Festival is a purposeful activation of the space in Fox Plaza, which has been called “a physical, emotional, and experiential barrier”. Building with large mycelium blocks as well as sheets of composite-filled plywood, we propose constructing an intuitive, interactive amphitheater. Its stage will be activated with musicians, performers, and public speakers. The amphitheater itself will be modular, utilizing galvanized steel guide tracks. This will allow changeable seating for lunch, gatherings, and even working en plein air. Pedestrians stopping by can utilize Market Street’s WiFi, or perhaps WiFi via collaboration with Twitter across the street. With support from Twitter, Dolby, and/or Spotify, we may be able to amplify the theater with more technological aspects.
Fox Plaza is prime to be activated with seating, encouraging members of all communities to spend time outdoors along San Francisco’s main street. With hundreds of neighboring Twitter employees, especially anticipating Twitter’s possible plans to lease its entire ground floor to a “Ferry Building-like” collection of restaurants, it makes perfect sense to create a new destination for lunchtime lounging or after-work performances. Drawing on the neighborhood’s abutting “theater district”, we imagine a new ‘parklet’ within this otherwise vacant, uninviting plaza, where musicians and artists can step in at any moment and entertain the lounging crowd.
Mithun + MycoWorks initial teaming on Park(ing) Day was a day-long demonstration of the capabilities of mycelium construction.
If selected to build our mycelium amphitheater, we will execute outreach to local musicians, performers, and public speakers to activate our parklet in Fox Plaza for the duration of the Prototyping Festival.
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