[degradation movement manifesto]
location: [Kochi – Muziris Biennale_Collateral] Fort Kochi, Kerala – INDIA
In an era of concrete jungles and overcrowded cities, degradability, sustainability and liability become parts of the responsibility of architecture.
It is an innovation in the field of biology and architecture, a concept that stresses the need for temporariness.
A way of mimicking nature to forge our path onward, where existence questions permanence.
Mycelium is the vegetative part of a fungus like mushrooms and it is being touted for the first time in India, as a possible building block.
Planting a seed
The Shell Mycelium installation at the MAP Project space at the Dutch Warehouse as a Kochi Muziris Biennale Collateral, was the work of Kochi based architect Asif Rahman of Beetles 3.3 (B3.3), Italian architect Giombattista Arredia and Lebanese architect Mohamad Yassin of Yassin Arredia Design (YAD). The team met at Barcelona at the IAAC masters programme and were introduced to Mycotecture by inventor-artist Philip Ross, who has been studying mushrooms with fast growing mycelia as building material. The three architects were fascinated by this concept as they had been discussing the nature of building and humans. Are these concrete buildings we build actually a sign of progress? Is this really development? Is this the future?
“Architecture is a permanent sign in any territory. During major events like the Olympic games, expos, FIFA world cups, multiple structures are constructed. In most of the cases the structures constructed are permanent, making use of heavy construction material. This approach leads to many practical difficulties in demolition and disposal. Many of the structures are erected as a sign of the prosperity and strength of a nation’s economy and the cities unconsciously pay the price. At the end of the event, after the entire world has danced and celebrated, the city remains a scarred body, devoid of life. The city is ravaged and the ghost town that is left behind takes decades to metabolize. We criticize these unconscious political choices, with living buildings that arise from nature and return to nature, as though they never existed.”
The Degradation Movement Manifesto was a combination of their exposure at Barcelona and their discussions. The architects wanted to bring the idea to the Kochi Muziris Biennale to begin conversations on a global platform and conveyed their revolutionary concept with a simple installation made of a wooden structure, plywood and mycelium. Every living thing should go through a lifecycle and this goes for our shelters as well.
“The degradation movement in architecture upholds the bio-logic, the logic for a degradable need.”
The installation is site specific which means that not just the display area was considered, but local labour and materials as well. They started off with research at a local mushroom farm. Experiments led to the selection of the right mushroom and study of growth patterns. The wooden structure for the Shell Mycelium installation was designed to sit within the degrading Dutch Warehouse. A reflection of sorts. The openness was an invitation to explore and the structure was designed to disintegrate according to their design. The structure was then covered in coir pith which contained the fungus. After a few days of tending, the mycelium grew and formed a snowy covering over the structure. The top layer died due to sunlight and formed a shell that protects the bottom layers. As the Biennale came to a close, the structure had slowly started to disintegrate, while curious visitors experience it.
A living installation that shows that everything that is born must grow and then die..
“The shell pavilion is a pavilion made of spores and the wooden structure forms the growing ground. The mycelium eat it, merge with it, transform it and grow through it. The pavilion will be a building, which after it is born, will grow along with its visitors, and die once its purpose is fulfilled. The only remains left behind are the experience left under it.”
The beauty of the installation from the Degradation Movement is the creation of moments between art, society and architecture. The Shell Mycelium was an artistic expression of degradation. It questions the status quo and opens up the door to new sustainable possibilities.