4 Gross-But-Weirdly-Wonderful Building Materials

Don’t expect to see your regular bricks and mortar here. People are whipping up building materials out of urine and blood. No, really. Read on to be mostly amazed and a little disgusted. --Elizabeth Lilly, thisoldhouse.com

1. Corn Husk and Mushroom Bricks. Mmmm. TASTY!

Chopped-up corn husks and mycelium (AKA mushroom roots) will be mixed and set in brick forms to make this “self-assembling” or “growing” tower. Light-reflecting bricks will also be used in the real-life version of the structure (pictured above) at NYC’s MoMA PS1. David Benjamin of The Living designed the concept, called Hy-Fi, as an almost carbon-neutral outdoor installation and won MoMA’s 2014 Young Architects Program. See additional renderings and learn more.

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2. Biostone Made from (Ew.) Urine

This biodgradable concrete-like material is made of “sand, urine, and bacteria.” Edinburgh College of Art student Peter Trimble created the machine that made the above-pictured stool as part of his thesis project. Here’s how it works: “Bacteria” is brewed into a broth, injected into a sand-filled mold and left to cure overnight. Finally, another injection of ” bacteria” (urea and calcium chloride, if you must know) is added to create a sturdy seat. The stuff can be broken down and used as fertilizer, too. Read more about Biostone.

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3. Solar Panels Made from Moss

The photosynthetic process of moss makes it a prime plant pick for generating electricity, thus making it the base of the Photo Microbial Fuel Cells (Photo-MFCs) shown here. Photo-MFCs have an anode that stores generated electrons, a cathode where electrons are consumed, and an external circuit connecting the two parts. Swiss designer Fabienne Felder and University of Cambridge scientists Paolo Bombelli and Ross Dennis used this technology in a moss-powered radio prototype. Check out some awesomely nerdy project diagrams.

RELATED: Install Your Very Own Nerdy Green Roof

4. Blood Bricks

So much cow blood in London’s slaughterhouses! What to do with it all? Jack Munro thought up a way to put that waste to good use during his final semester at University of Westminster. He set a mixture of animal blood, a preservative, and sand in a brick mold (no baking needed, by the way). The result was cheap, waterproof blood bricks. There you go. Get more details about the blood brick production process.

RELATED: How to Make a Beautiful Brick Path (With Blood Bricks or Just Regular Bricks)

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