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Cleveland architect turns mushrooms into building materials

Posted at 4:20 PM, Mar 02, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-02 17:56:59-05

From waste material to building materials, one Cleveland architect is using mushrooms to create a different type of construction.

Chris Maurer is a humanitarian architect who worked for years in Africa and learned how to use all available resources to their fullest potential.

Maurer owns Redhouse Architecture in Ohio City, but also has a research lab off E. 65th Street and Euclid Avenue.

Inside, various types of mushrooms are grown on top of tightly-packed waste materials — things like sawdust and corn stover — and the mushroom’s mycelium — white, tentacle-like roots — acts as a glue to bind everything together.

The result? A strong, pliable and versatile building material.

The mushrooms are then harvested and eaten.

“From spore to building material, in some cases, can be anywhere from a few days to a matter of months,” Maurer explained. It can be cut, molded, and used in a variety of ways.

The eventual hope, Maurer said, is to build disaster relief housing while providing a food source at the same time.

While they aren’t ready to build an entire house out of the materials, they are ready to build something. The first project is for Refugee Response, an agricultural shed for the Ohio City Farms.

Maurer is also using materials from demolished homes in Cleveland. Since 2006, 9,000 homes have been torn down.

“We look at Cleveland as sort of ground zero for this research when it comes to recycling homes,” Maurer said. “We’d love Cleveland to be the first city that has a full-structure build-out of this material.”