Inverted Architecture Shenzhen, China Studio Link-Arc

14 Mar 2023

Mushroom Brick Pyramids

Photo credit: Yu Bai

‘More than Human Adventure' is the theme of the Exhibition for the 2022 Shenzhen Biennale, titled Urban Cosmologies. In response to the theme, Studio Link-Arc proposes to explore the intersection between living organisms and architecture.

Mycelia (mushrooms) are living, root-like structures that sometimes cover thousands of acres. They have tremendous abilities to survive and adapt to various environments and their demands. In this installation, the firm aims to reflect, visualize, and learn from such organisms to adapt the languages and techniques of architecture to the future.

Photo credit: Yu Bai

Using the language of construction, this installation explores relationships between architectura and mostly unknown ecosystem known. The aim is to dissolve boundaries and create a symbiosis, or a collaboration between both realms. The inverted-pyramid shape flips traditional views on its head, illustrating the existence of second natures, double functionality, duplicate purposes, man-made and nature, present and future, and finally growth and decay. A symbol that is also an anti-symbol.

The installation consists of 400 hanging mushroom bricks, areich is a renewable and bio-degradable material. Bricks are grown, rather than manufactured. Using an agricultural waste straw, bagasse, and wheat bran as substrate, the mycelium grows naturally and, in time, solidifies. The result is a material with enough structural strength and plasticity that, under the right temperature and humidity, can be grown into any shape. Once its life as construction material ends, several months in the soil will see the complete degradation of the mushroom brick, thus being no burden to the environment.

The exhibition takes place in a converted old brewery, with gallery spaces between continuous concrete frames. The indoor-outdoor space provides an ideal place for mushroom bricks to absorb moisture from the air. In addition, a pool is created under the installation to provide a moist micro-climate.

The mycelia will be deactivated in the manufacturing process. To compensate, the team selected some bricks to grow fresh mushrooms after assembly. The hope is to make this installation part of the sustainable ecological cycle, a man-made device that grows and evolves as a living organism.


Technical sheet

  • Project Name: Inverted Architecture
  • Project Location: Shenzhen, China
  • Exhibition Duration: Dec 10, 2022-March 12, 2023
  • Chief Architect: Yichen Lu
  • Project Manager: Shiyu Guo, Luis Ausin, Simeng Qin, Zhenwei Zhong
  • Project Team: Letty Lau, Zida Liu, Lingyun Yang, Zeynep Ugur, Rui Zhou, Chenhao Ma, Xiaoxuan Hu, Yu Lai, Shawlon Hsieh
  • Biological Technology Support: Bio-Loop
  • Photos: Bai, Chao Zhang
  • Video Editing: Ery Wang, Hao Li
  • Sponsor: Shenzhen Municipal People's Government
  • Undertaker: Shenzhen Planning and Natural Resources Bureau, Shenzhen Luohu District People's Government
  • Executed by: Guangdong Yuehai Land Group Co., Ltd
  • Supported by: Shenzhen Biennale Public Art Foundation, Shenzhen Urban Planning and Design Institute
  • Special Fund Support: Shenzhen Cultural Industry Development Special Fund
  • Chief Curators: Lu Andong, Wang Zigeng, Chen Bokang