This project aims to expand on the human relationship with mycelium, as it has power to regenerate the land. By using living mycelium as a functioning material and making a modular ephemeral Land Art Installation, the project hopes to draw awareness to mycelium. Bringing culture back to nature, as well as remediate the site through soil.

Site and Non Site

National Parks are sacred places and deserve our attention. Through walking the trails of Main Range National Park and learning their stories, Mt Mathieson became the chosen ‘site’ for the project. The ‘non site’ generated is an audio-visual experience of the site. It links the site to the magic of mycelium, connection to the universe, and the influence it had on a mycelial prototype of the Land Art via ‘design through making’.

National Parks and mycelium can be the gateway in which to reconnect human culture back to nature and find refuge in knowing everything is connected. Helping to find the ‘Us’ in ’Symbios-Us’.

Wandering wondering

After narrowing down to the National Parks circuits, to site visit from 21 to 10, and then walking 10 of the tracks, Mt Mathieson at Main Range National Park became the chosen ‘site’ for the project. The site on this track focuses its lookout on the Main Ranges rather than out vast expanses of the southeast region. With Cunningham Gap at the centre, it is easier to imagine the stories told on-site trail signage of how important the ranges were to not only pioneers but also for the Indigenous communities on both sides of the range, and why people risked their lives to get through. The hum of trucks curving up the highway melodically moves with the sound of the birds and the wind. Something we would not hear if it were not for the drovers trying to find safe passage to the east. The natural lookout subconsciously asks the viewer to slow down. This is when the site of installation to the East of the track can be noticed and further contemplation can be created.

Site reflection

This was a summary of the sites visited and how they influenced experimental mycelium sculptures.

Mycelium making

Inoculating my own grain spawn from a supplier was done with different species and generations. This was to test how much of a certain resource the mycelium would like, such as coffee and gypsum. The substrate was intended for the preliminary sculptures, while the grain spawn for the final piece. To reduce chance of contamination of mycelium they were kept in a greenhouse with an fish tank air filter to increase air flow and move the humidity from the buckets of hot water that were placed in the greenhouse on cold nights.

To create mycelium panels for the final piece multiple steps had to take place
• Cut corrugated cardboard panels into identical rectangles to fit storage container.
• Soak cardboard overnight to remove any glues and drown any mites
• Dry out panels next day and sanitize everything while proceeding
• Cover inside of storage box with cling wrap. Sterilize.
• Place sterilized card panel in and inoculate with grain spawn.
• Add sterilized pine shavings, coir, and coffee grain, repeat process x3
• Wrap panel tightly in cling wrap
• Puncture cling wrap with sterilized needle to ensure oxygen.
• Repeat process for 3 panels per box.
• Label, set and forget.

1 out of 4 storage boxes were healthy mycelium panels. However, it still too damp and need to be dried. This has meant the outcome of design has to adapt and change from the original idea of the frame and panel as the mycelium does not have the structural strength.

Prototype adaption

Clay as a material and substrate unexpectedly worked in the ‘Human Ground’ experimental model. So, it was used to represent the material of rammed earth reinforced with straw, which is proposed for the adapted design.

The clay will then be used in layers with new cardboard and the mycelium panels, acting like glue and structural reinforcement. This is, in a way, a better outcome than the original as it suggests the artwork will be coming up from the earth and a part of it and not separate from it, working with the earth from the site – bringing the ground up. This new design pays homage to the Indigenous owners who would use the elements such as fire to control and remediate the land.

By using the element of earth to create a new layered and undulating tectonic terrain; encouragement of water retention and distribution as well as mycelial and plant growth. This new design-led approach to land remediation allows for human culture to return to nature.
Using the equilateral triangle is an easy way to achieve multiple shapes and forms on-site as they are a shape that fits into other shapes. These panels are at a scale of 1:3 with panels on-site suggested to range from 300mm to 600mm. This is small enough to ensure the panels do not break easily and can be used as paving between the 2 sides of the trail. with mycelium underfoot.


The hybrid panels were experimented with multiple formations and techniques to see what could be created even though it is not the desired or suggested outcome for the site. The morphology of the panels as a new tectonic terrain was the driving goal behind the movement of the panels. Imitation of the ancient geomorphology of ‘The Gap’ and imagining a vision of immersing site visitors into the new terrain was how I ‘played’ with the emerging shapes. By turning the mycelium into a new form of art, the culture of returning the human consciousness to the universal consciousness has been successful. Art does not have to be ‘right’ or go the way as planned. It is what it is, just as we and the rest of the universe is. It is an ever-changing evolution just as mycelium and all other life is.

Non site

The second site visit to create a new visual audio experience of the ‘site’, was influenced by the evolution of the design idea and core values. That being the connection back to the ground underfoot and the universe it has created all around us. A simplistic way to convey this idea was inspired by the concept of ‘as above so below’. By focusing in on human footsteps of mindful movement, connections are created about the fact that what is underfoot (mycelium) is what gave life to the earth and the protection that tree canopies have provided humans through the millennia. It was made to help people’s imaginations about the possibilities of the ‘in-between spaces’ along the lines walked. The creation of spaces that mycelium has provided as nature’s life cycle portal.

Experience the site in non site

Creation story


To see how this was created in depth, please download the final report of the project.

Alex Cartlidge

Alex's ambition is to become an innovative and thoughtful Landscape Architect. She enjoys learning kinaesthetically and visually to reach the outcomes of engaging in symbiotic design. Her prior experience as a gardener and draftsperson has given her practical knowledge about landscape. During Alex's time at QUT, she has learnt to find her own theoretical approach and has grown into her creative and adaptive side to reach holistic outcomes in her Landscape Architecture projects.