Team Love’s Pauline Bourdon reflects on the use of mycelium, a material made from the root network of fungi, to construct a pavilion in Glastonbury Festival’s Silver Hayes.

Being part of an industry that creates moments of collective joy is probably what makes working at festivals so special. Now add social and climate justice to the power of community and you can’t deny the valuable role festivals play in people’s lives and society. Countless times, live music events have shown how they can help transform people’s habits (Shambala Festival becoming meat and fish free), raise awareness of a cause (Billie Eillish’s Overheated conference) or test new technologies to improve people’s lives (Forwards Festival Trialing the Give Vision headset to aid visually impaired attendees).

In 2019, Simon Carroll from Temple Design Studio approached Team Love to discuss a potential new material to be used in festival builds, Mycelium Panels, a new regenerative material made from the roots network of fungi. The idea was born out of a desire from Simon Carroll to completely challenge what we use, how we work and the status quo of a throwaway society and therefore creative industry. Most set designs rely on the use of cheap plastic polymer-based products or wood that require fossil fuels extraction for production, which deplete the natural resources and release various CO2e emissions alongside the supply chain.

 “The creation of an environmental responsibility in the Arts Council programme opens exciting prospects for the events industry.”

The pandemic, unsurprisingly, put a halt to the discussions and project, but the idea grew. Finally at the end of 2022, Team Love & Temple Design Studio submitted an application to the Arts Council of England to create a space at Glastonbury Festival’s Silver Hayes showcasing the creative use of Mycelium panels in a festival setting. As mycelium feeds on agricultural waste, the utopia behind the project was to open up the possibility of using the waste from the farm to make mycelium panels which can be used for the festival.

At a time when events are struggling to sustain themselves financially while also trying to be at the forefront of sustainable practices, the creation of an environmental responsibility in the Arts Council programme opens exciting prospects for the creative and events industries. I believe it is essential to unlock fundings opportunities for organisations and practitioners to explore sustainable, circular and/or regenerative practices without carrying the financial risk. Giving them a safe platform to create and test an array of solutions for a better and fairer future.

With The Hayes Pavilion showcasing 6 Degrees, we were able to:

  • Use festivals as testing labs for new technologies and future-led innovations
  • Challenge our use and perceptions of building materials
  • Discuss the changes required for a green transition in creative roles e.g innovation, sustainable qualification & a greener skill set.
  • Begin to develop and understanding of the environmental impact of using mycelium in festival settings
  • Showcase a regenerative led future to wider audiences and a network of industry professionals

We are releasing a report and a documentary at the end of November to share our journey, findings and recommendations with everyone that wishes to learn more about Mycelium materials. With the hope that this piece will help de-risk the future use of this fantastic, regenerative and nature-inspired biotechnology.