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A Mushroom Farm for Chatsworth Estate

Part 1 Project 2011
Joseph Dimery
University of Sheffield, UK
The project’s genesis stems from Chatsworth Estate’s long history of gardening. The theme of botany was put forward by the tutor and we were asked to draw up our own briefs. The scheme is therefore rooted in the preliminary site analysis. Drawing upon the experience of walking through Stand Woods, the less manicured, less visited area of the estate, early work focused around the journey, the rhythms and pattern, density and enclosure of moving through the woodland. The discovery of structures hidden in the wooded hill side adds magic to the journey. Stumbled upon, they become the landmarks of the woods, the project aims to create another such landmark.

Mushrooms were also found, forming landmarks of a smaller scale. The proposal adds a new area to the Estate’s tradition of selling its own produce, in the form of a mushroom farm. Two distinct production methods are accommodated. Button mushrooms, which are grown in compost and shiitake mushrooms, grown on logs which require soaking in water to trigger growth.

The design takes these processes of “fungiculture” and integrates them into the architecture, creating a building/machine. Button mushrooms are grown in compost trolleys that move from a subterranean environment to the surface, the changes in environment reflecting the required growing conditions. The logs containing the shiitake mushrooms form the walls of the building and move on racks so they can be submerged in water.

The context is again important, the linear building references the estate’s large scale axial arrangements. The specific site is chosen to allow views back to the house and the proximity to a water supply. A route through the building is created and forms an extension to the journey through the woodland. Spaces are orchestrated to offer similar variations in density and enclosure.

The mushroom farm adds a new chapter in Chatsworth’s history of cultivation as well as drawing visitors up into the woodland to discover this new landmark.

Joseph Dimery


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