A futuristic installation that dazzled festivalgoers at Glastonbury 2023 in June drew inspiration from a communication network that is millions of years old and may have provided a glimpse at the next major wave of sustainable art.
ArchDaily detailed how the snail-shaped structure — designed by Simon Carroll and in collaboration with Silver Hayes’ Team Love — was constructed from salvaged wood and mycelium, a thread-like fungi network that is vital for the health of our planet’s soil.
“We are entering a crucial time in how we meet creative design challenges in an informed sustainable approach,” Carroll said in a statement on the festival’s official website.
Carroll told the online magazine Wallpaper* that he pitched the mushroom-based project to Team Love as early as 2019 with the hopes of motivating others to think about how their choices impact our interconnected planet.
“It allowed us time to develop the concept, not just showcasing mycelium but creating a purpose-built pavilion structure that will over the coming years demonstrate pioneering new material approaches and concepts,” Carroll said.
The construction industry is well known for its contributions to planet-warming pollution and poor air quality, with concrete alone producing about 4.4 billion tons of carbon pollution each year, according to Princeton.
However, one intent of the Glastonbury installation was to raise awareness in the artistic sector. According to the nonprofit magazine Atmos, “The art world emits more [carbon pollution] every year than the entire country of Austria” at 77 million tons.
It now appears mycelium, which doesn’t pollute the soil with toxic chemicals, might be the key to making stunning sculptures for festivals in a way that maintains the spirit of honoring the Earth.
“Using biodegradable materials such as mycelium allows our creative endeavors to be part of nature’s inherently circular systems,” biomaterial specialist and project adviser Leksi Kostur told Wallpaper*. “I hope that the pavilion shows festivalgoers that we can achieve beautiful and captivating results without relying on linear materials.”
“We’re proud to be playing our part in sustainable design in the live events and music industry,” Phil Gibby, the south west director for Arts Council England, said in a statement on the festival’s website.
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