Is it an urban mushroom farm? Is it a pigeon tower? Is it a pile of compost?

We’re building assemblages with waste mycelium from the oyster mushroom industry. WHAT you call them probably depends on WHEN you encounter them. At first they appear as horizontal mushroom farms. Many of our neighbours have enjoyed picking the tasty oyster mushrooms that grow from its living walls. The white coat appearing on the outside of the building blocks is the mycelium itself, the ‘root system’ of the fungus. It helps the blocks grow together, no cement needed.

After a few weeks the towers dry out and stop producing mushrooms. The structures are strong now, and open for other creatures to live within their walls. The next incarnation of the mycelium assemblage manifests itself. Feral pigeons build their nests inside. We’ve left spaces within its inner walls where their young can mature. One of the many gifts pigeons share are their excrements. For centuries this guano was a highly valued fertiliser. Each pigeon dropping adds value to the mycelium structure for when the next phase of its lifecycle arrives.

These pigeon towers are not meant to last forever. Quite the opposite in fact. After a year or so, the towers start to degrade and it is time for the pigeons to move on. The roof is removed and a composting phase arrives. Weather and microbes are invited to turn what still looks like a small building into a composting ruin. Eventually it all turns into locally manufactured fertile soil, ready to use in the nearby urban farms and gardens, where the cycle begins again.

So WHATEVER you see, and WHENEVER that is, you’re always looking at the myco-assemblage in one of its many incarnations. By its very essence it is in a constant process of one state moving into another. It is a holobiont, a cooperation between species, technology, nature and time. Something that weaves animal, plant, fungi, technology and humanity, as well as various domesticated and rewilded variants of these, into one living and dying system. There is no start, there is no finish, only periods of rest, frantic activity, and transformation.