Arup and Italian biodesign firm, Mogu, have launched one of the world’s first mycelium acoustic panel systems, providing companies with a more sustainable option for reconfiguring their workspaces for the post-pandemic world. 

As businesses prepare for employees to return to in-person working, the FORESTA system can help create high quality, creative working spaces. With many firms adopting a hybrid approach to working, splitting time between home and the workplace, office spaces need to be reconfigured to match the move to activity-based work, creating zones suited for creative co-working.

Biomaterials, such as the FORESTA system designed by Arup and Mogu, can help businesses sustainably reconfigure their work spaces for these new ways of collaboration, improving the experience and the acoustic quality.

The system is a carbon store as the mycelium locks in the carbon from the natural substrates during its growth cycle. It also has a far less energy-intensive manufacturing process than traditional materials. Almost 40% of carbon emissions are created by buildings and construction* and there is a focus on looking at how materials such as mycelium, timber and other natural products can be used to move away from traditional materials such as plastics, metal and concrete. 

The industry also contributes to around 40% of the world’s total waste** and with many commercial buildings and hospitality premises being refitted approximately every five years, replacing the interiors is particularly wasteful. The panels are made almost entirely from natural materials and are fully biodegradable, while the supportive timber framing can be reused, reducing the waste produced both by individual businesses and by the construction industry.

The FORESTA system has been designed to help businesses move to a circular economy, away from the “take-make-waste” system. The panels are made of acoustic modules consisting of the vegetative tissue of fungus cultivated using agricultural residues from the textile industry – supported by a framing of regional beech wood. These mushroom cultures combine and interlink with the natural fibres, and after a final heat treatment, create a new, durable bio-composite material with proven sound-absorbing properties. The final bio-composite material contains no spores, supporting healthy and safe environments. Businesses will be able to customise the panels by colour and texture, thanks to their modular design.

*Reference: UN Environment Programme Report
*Reference: World Business Council for Sustainable Development