Mycelium as Samorost by Buřinka

A combination of nature,
strength and beauty

Introducing Samorost – another in a series of innovative projects by building savings bank Burinka (meber of Erste group), which sees mycelium as a huge potential and the future of modern and, above all, sustainable construction.

When you say mushrooms, most of us think of a mushroom in the forest or a stir-fry. But fungi are far more complex organisms, far stronger than most of us think. There are about six million species in the world, and they’re practically everywhere. They are wonderful in all that they can do, and impressive in all that they can be used for, or made into. In our project, we are focusing on the use of mycelium, which, as a system of interwoven filaments, together with organic waste, can create new and unexpected materials. Can you imagine planting a flower in a pot made from mycelium, sitting in a chair or picking up a book from a shelf created by the interwoven fibres of mushrooms? Science fiction? A joke? No, that’s reality.

What is mycelium?

The mycelium is the part of a fungus that remains hidden in its substrate. Here it lives its own life, spreading and connecting and integrating the different parts of its environment with its filaments, called hyphae. It is a system of interwoven fungal filaments that grow through the soil in networks up to tens of kilometres long. The mycelium can be thought of as the roots of a plant, except that roots have only a few centimetres of fibres per cubic centimetre of soil, whereas mycelium has tens or even hundreds of metres.
It grows and expands in its environment, looking for any patch of its substrate from which it can draw energy that it can use in some way. It joins the parts together to create solid formations. It acts as a natural glue.

Properties of mycelium

Mycelium has one amazing property. When you crush it and put it in a mould, it stays alive. It sticks out its hyphae from the individual parts, which scout around and connect to the hyphae next to them. They recognise each other because they form one organism. The mycelium then grows back together to form an object in the shape determined by the mould. Subsequent drying or heating kills it and stops it from growing any further. You then obtain a finished product ready for further processing (impregnation, dyeing) and use. We want to focus on the use of this material in the construction industry due to its properties such as strength or excellent insulation.
From this natural material, which we first allow to live, grow and strengthen, then crush it and give it a specific shape, we can produce virtually anything. It is also not unrealistic to use it as an ecological alternative in construction. And that is the kind of research we now want to encourage, to get clearer ideas and insights into how mycelium could be used in construction.
We have a long way to go, lots of tests and trials, ideas, successes and missteps. But that’s the way it should be, and with all this we enter into this new project. Follow us and keep your fingers crossed!

To be used in the construction industry, the material needs to be professionally lab tested in areas that are critical to the industry. That’s why we put the mycocomposite through the necessary tests during the summer of 2023.

Experiential exhibition as part of Designblok

We ended the year 2023 with an exhibition of unique interior elements made of mycelium. The experiential exhibition is a confirmation of the exceptional properties of mycocomposite and its use in construction and design.
We managed to present several types of interior accessories:

  • Lamps
  • Café table
  • Collection of table and stool
  • Acoustic panels
  • Paravan
  • Accessories

For us, 2023 is the “year of the material”. We want to introduce mycelium to the general public. How it is formed, how it grows, what it looks like, what it feels like, but also what properties it has. In addition to getting to know the material, we have a period of trials and tests ahead of us. What can and will mycelium do? How strong is it? Can it withstand the tests of different weather conditions? Can it withstand fire? Is it safe for health? We’ll bring you the answers to these questions and more this month. And we’ll see what we can make out of mycelium. Follow us on this website, on our Facebook page and on Instagram.

The people of the project

Building savings bank Burinka (meber of Erste group)

Monika Kopřivová, Ondřej Zahořík

Monika: Why do we support this project? Because we like timeless ideas and we are visionaries who want to set trends in modern and sustainable construction. We enjoy working with people who are not afraid of unconventional ideas, who are passionate about them and who can push them further. And we share this enthusiasm and we are giving it a chance to take shape.

AMI Communications

Ivana Čechová, Kristýna Vinopalová, Tomáš Fiala

Tomáš: Together with the team at Buřinka, we like to invent things that at first look like science fiction, but in the end turn into something real. For example, a real 3D printed house or a building material that grows by itself. Unconventional ideas deserve unconventional communication and that is something we enjoy. Our role is not only to convey information about the mycelium to the media and the public, but mainly to spark curiosity and evoke emotions. It worked great for Prvok and Samorost definitely deserves even more attention. This material will literally put you on your… well, on your chair that grew out of mushrooms.


Matěj Róth, Jakub Seifert, Kateřina Sýsová, Jiří Vele, Karolína Petřeková a Tomasz Kloza

Matěj: My long-term goal is not to do science for science’s sake. To study lichens in Antarctica and talk about how we will terraform Mars in 200 years – that doesn’t satisfy me. I need to apply my knowledge and skills here and now. Biotechnology is a very underrated field in the Czech Republic and I would like to change that. Fungi are beautiful organisms with enormous potential. I want to build a biotechnology base in our country for design and architecture from mycelium. And that’s why I see a lot of sense in the Samorost project.


Comparison with conventional building materials

Properties of mycelium and recycled materials

Frequently asked questions

What kind of mushrooms do you work with? As part of the Samorost project, we are working with Ganoderma lucidum, also called Reishi.
How long does it take for the mycelium to grow to the desired size? The first phase of mycelial growth takes approximately one month. The second phase (after the mycelium is crushed and placed in the mould) takes about 3 days to a week.
What can form the substrate of the mycelium? It can be many things, even coffee grounds. In our research we work with wood chips.
Can the material cause allergic reactions? The material is safe for health. Allergic reactions are caused by fungal spores. In our research, we work exclusively with the mycelium and stop the growth of the fungus before the fruiting body grows. Without the fruiting body there are no spores, without spores there is no allergy.
Is the material you work with 100% recyclable? It's a completely natural material that breaks down without any residue. So there is no need to recycle it in any way. When an item made of mycelium has reached the end of its life, it can simply be composted and turned into black soil.
Under what conditions does mycelium grow best? Reishi can cope with as low as 15°C, but it's not too keen on that, the upper limit temperature is around 30°C.
Why are you interested in using mycelium in construction? Mycelium has excellent thermal and acoustic insulation properties. As a natural material, it has great potential to be at the forefront of sustainable construction.
Should we be worried about The Last of Us becoming a reality? Absolutely not. The cordyceps mushroom, which plays a starring role in the video game and the series, is not adapted to survive in the temperature present in the human body, it's simply too high. No fungus is going to turn a person into a zombie.