Looking to the history of home building — in which most houses were sourced from locally available materials — the Architecture Foundation of British Columbia challenged designers this spring to look ahead to a sustainable future with designs for houses culled from within a hundred miles of Vancouver. The submission deadline for the global 100 Mile House competition passed at the end of April, and now the winners have been selected. The submission that has taken the 1st Place prize this year is the Myco Home by local-boy Tony Osborn of (you guessed it) Vancouver.
To say that this house is aspirational is putting lightly, as the structure can’t currently be built as designed — largely because it’s constructed around a wall system based on recycled wood that has been colonized by mushroom spores. The myco-treatment, so to speak, creates a fire- and mold-resistant, highly insulating building block ideal for green building. Oh, and it produces two edible mushroom crops in the process. (Call it the 100 Mile House meets the 100 Mile Diet.)
According to the home’s designer, recycled wood treated in this way results in building blocks similar to Insulated Concrete Forms (ICF), which can then be assembled as easily as Legos. Coupled with recycled steel and natural concrete, they form the home’s structural walls, which are then faced with a shingle-style membrane and a rainscreen, allowing the whole thing to be put together by friends, neighbors, and otherwise unskilled humans willing to lend a hand. The wall assembly is then covered in a lime-hemp plaster that forms a breathable yet watertight surface.
Designing your own Myco House was likewise envisioned as a cheap, egalitarian process. You, the owner-builder, design your home using online software provided by McoHome.com, based on a series of stock designs. Once you decide on the dimensions and layout of your new domicile, the company essentially dumps the building materials in your driveway, ready for you and your community to assemble into home-sweet-home. This DIY, community-based approach was designed not only to increase the amount of sweat-equity in the neighborhood, but to drastically reduce the costs of construction.
When the home reaches the end of its natural life, naturally, it can be disassembled in much the same way and recycled.
Osborn believes that even though the Myco House can’t currently be built as specified, it needs to be built. “We can reduce the region’s waste, increase energy efficiency, contribute to food independence, create affordable housing, teach people skills, and strengthen communities with a building system that is made, used and recycled right here,” he said. The judges of the 100 Mile House competition, apparently, concurred.