Richmond upon Thames, London
Museum of Architecture
Beneath our feet lies a hidden network connecting plants and trees through their roots. Mycorrhizae are the symbiotic relationships that form between fungi and plants. The fungi colonize the root system of their host, enhancing its water and nutrient absorption in exchange for carbohydrates from hotosynthesis.
This symbiotic relationship between fungi and plants, colloquially referred to as the Wood Wide Web, is thought to support up to 90% of the planet’s plant species. It is one of the fundamental building blocks for life on earth and yet little is known about it.
Now, researchers including those at RBG Kew, have discovered that these mycorrhizal fungi, which thrive in cooler climates are threatened by increasing levels of nitrogen pollution and rising global temperatures.
‘Wood Wide Web’ is a new interpretation of a treehouse that elevates this secret underground world into the light.
A root canopy, grown out of the ground, and mirroring the network below invites visitors, through play and interaction to share in an immersive experience that bonds them to this fundamental, life-giving relationship. Timber ‘roots’ are lifted up to form the main structure. ‘Mycorrhizal filaments’ hang below to form a light variegated enclosure in which we can explore, relax, and interact. Visitors become part of the process, grabbing at the filaments to activate and release ‘spores’ from the ‘fruiting bodies’ above.
As others approach from the path they are treated to a spectacle of colour, smell and sound as spore bubbles filled with scented vapour burst out of the mushrooms, floating off into the park.