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Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

School of Architecture Students Build Pavilion Out of Mycelium

School of Architecture Students Build Pavilion Out of Mycelium

By Regina Stracqualursi

August 22, 2019

This month, students from the School of Architecture at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute constructed a pavilion composed of mycelium units on the lawn in front of the Greene Building on campus.

Mycelium is the vegetative part of fungus that can be dried to form a solid, durable, and environmentally friendly construction material.

The students who worked on the pavilion were part of the inaugural class participating in The Arch, a transformative new program at Rensselaer that requires all students to live and learn on campus during the summer after their sophomore year before participating in an off-campus experiential learning experience during the fall or spring semester of their junior year.

Among the courses offered during this first Arch summer was Manual Parametrics, a 12-week architecture studio focused on the development of a pavilion in the shape of a dome using a sustainable material. It was led by Associate Professor Gustavo Crembil, with Mae-Ling Lokko as the material adviser and Tom Rowland as the fabrication adviser.

Taking part in a design-build studio during the summer gives students the opportunity to build outside, which also allows them to build on a one-to-one scale and gain experience working with a new material.

“We don’t only think with our heads; we also think with our hands,” said Crembil. “When working one-to-one, you’re confronted with scale and, suddenly, gravity matters.”

In addition to constructing the final pavilion, the students also created each of the individual mycelium units using a system developed by Lokko as part of the “Carbocycene” research project taking place at Atelier Luma / Luma Arles in France and at Rensselaer.


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Founded in 1824, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is America’s first technological research university. Rensselaer encompasses five schools, 32 research centers, more than 145 academic programs, and a dynamic community made up of more than 7,900 students and more than 100,000 living alumni. Rensselaer faculty and alumni include more than 145 National Academy members, six members of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, six National Medal of Technology winners, five National Medal of Science winners, and a Nobel Prize winner in Physics. With nearly 200 years of experience advancing scientific and technological knowledge, Rensselaer remains focused on addressing global challenges with a spirit of ingenuity and collaboration.