The world’s first ’smart’ fungal building will be built in Bristol as part of a £2.5m living architecture project. 

The project, which will be funded by the European Commission, will be developed by researchers from the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) in collaboration with partners from Denmark, Italy and the Netherlands. 

Due to its eco-friendly credentials, the project has been described as a “radically new approach” that will mark the first time intelligent biological substances have been used as construction materials. 

What is a Smart Fungal Building?

The construction of this smart home will be achieved using living fungi, a carbon-free material which will be grown inside the building’s structure. 

The fungi will act as a sensor detecting changes in light, temperature and pollutants. When changes are recognised, the system can respond adaptively by controlling connected devices such as lights and heaters. 

Professor Andrew Adamatzky, director of the Centre of Unconventional Computing at UWE Bristol, said: “Our overarching goal is to design and bio-manufacture a sensing and computing building with fungi. This is a radically new approach as it proposes to use a real living organism in the material structure, which is also tuned to perform computation.”

Using fungi will reduce the production and running costs, and the natural materials are lightweight, waterproof and recyclable, meaning they can be returned to nature when they reach the end of their life.

The embedded artificial intelligence will comprise a novel bio-electric system, which will see computing functioning integrated with the living organisms into the designing and building. 

Is Fungi the Future?

Fungi is being used as a building material in Europe, but within current approaches it is grown then dried out to harden. Until now, it has never been used in live form in self-growing construction.

Following exposure to external stimuli such as changes to temperature and lighting conditions, fungi has been shown to react with spikes of electrical activity. 

“For example, a warning light could be lit if high levels of air pollution were detected or inhabitants could be warned about high or low temperatures. It’s our vision for an alternative version of a smart home,” added Prof Adamatzky.

The FUNGAR (Fungal Architectures) project will be funded for three years under an EU grant agreement.


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