In a world marked by rapid urbanization and the relentless march of concrete and steel, a unique sanctuary has emerged, standing as a testament to the power of spirituality and sustainable innovation. Côme Di Meglio’s MycoTemple is a transformative living structure that harnesses the astonishing capabilities of mycelium, creating a biodegradable domed space for physical and spiritual transformation.
Designer: Côme Di Meglio
At first glance, MycoTemple is a marvel of art and architecture, a five-meter-wide domed structure that seems to rise from the Earth itself. However, what truly sets it apart is its construction material: mycelium, the intricate underground network of fungi that has the remarkable ability to grow structures. Concealed within this mycelium marvel is a hand-carved wooden structure, hidden from view and only revealed as the mycelium gradually biodegrades over time, returning to the soil from where it came.
Stepping into MycoTemple is like stepping into another realm. Its thick, mycelium-based walls insulate visitors from the clamor of the outside world, creating a serene cocoon of tranquility. Within the semi-darkness, one becomes enveloped by an intriguing material, rich in textures and colors. Some areas feel rough, reminiscent of minerals, while others are soft and velvety, akin to the gentle touch of skin. Every square centimeter is a microscopic landscape meant to be explored, contemplated, and caressed. The immersive scent of the underwood establishes an intimate connection between visitors and the environment, enhancing the sensory experience.
The sensory immersion within this living organism, crafted into an architectural wonder, triggers a heightened state of awareness and a profound sense of presence. MycoTemple invites us to delve deep within ourselves, tapping into something primal and ancient that resides within each of us.
Beyond its artistic and architectural allure, MycoTemple serves a higher purpose as a space designed to foster a diverse range of collective experiences and communal events. It is a place for gatherings, concerts, and quiet moments of contemplation. Di Meglio envisions the dome as a vessel for emotions and dreams, and he notes, “All the emotions and dreams birthed in the dome will nurture this porous material.”
More than just a space for individual introspection, MycoTemple is designed to nurture our essential connection to the living world. It also serves as a place to strengthen our bonds with others. The shape of the dome itself harks back to ancestral dwellings, reminiscent of the caves where early humans sought shelter from external dangers. It’s a form that has been embraced by countless cultures around the world in sacred architecture—places where communities would gather in circles to share stories, ignite shared imaginations, and weave narratives that solidify their sense of belonging to a greater whole.
The gradual biodegradation of MycoTemple is an integral part of its aesthetic experience. It invites visitors to return throughout the seasons, providing an opportunity to witness the passage of time and the organic process of decay and renewal. It’s a reminder that all things are in a constant state of change, and it invites us to reflect on our transient existence.
The entire process of cultivating the mycelium, from its inception to the completion of MycoTemple, unfolded in Di Meglio’s artist studio in Marseille. Utilizing a low-tech approach and repurposed industrial waste, particularly sawdust, the design team grew the architectural-sized dome segments. This exploration of bio-material innovation showcases the potential of sustainable materials and practices in architecture.
MycoTemple is a testament to the power of innovation, sustainability, and spirituality coming together in harmony. It challenges our preconceptions about the permanence of structures and encourages us to reconnect with nature. As we stand in awe of this living sanctuary, we are reminded of the transformative potential that lies at the intersection of art, architecture, and the natural world. MycoTemple is not just a physical structure; it’s a journey of self-discovery and a celebration of the Earth’s remarkable regenerative capabilities.