CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati, in partnership with global energy company Eni, has developed an architectural structure made of mushrooms that was unveiled during Milan Design Week 2019. The installation, called “The Circular Garden,” has been grown from soil over the course of six weeks – and was returned to the soil at the end of the same month. It is composed of a series of 60 4-meter-high arches, adding up to a record 1-kilometer-long mycelium, and experiments with sustainable structures that can grow organically and then return to nature in a fully circular way. The project has been showcased during Milan’s Fuorisalone at Brera’s Orto Botanico, the city’s botanical garden.
The Circular Garden pushes the boundaries of using mycelium – the fibrous root of mushrooms – in design. In recent years, mycelium has been employed for sustainable packaging and small brick-like objects, whereas the Circular Garden engages with mycelium at an architectural scale. The mycelium was grown in the two months preceding the opening of the Circular Garden with the help of leading experts in the field of mycology – particularly the Dutch Krown.Bio lab. Spores were injected into organic material to start the growth process. In a similarly organic manner, all the mycelium has been shredded at the end of Milan Design Week and went back to the soil, in a circular way. The cycle is similar to what has happened since ancient times in small-town or city gardens, through the production of food and the composting of organic waste.