Tobias Revell

Also, might irradiated zucchini plants alleviate global warming?

Let's just answer the question posed in the headline right off the bat: No. Giant, floppity mushrooms will not be the basis of a secondary power grid in India in any conceivable future I can visualize, as delicious an idea as it sounds.

But seeing as exploiting organisms like algae to create electricity is an obsession among some futurists, let's take a moment to consider Tobias Revell's sci-fi story of how slum dwellers in Mumbai flipped their lives around with a handful of genetically mutated fungus. A graduate of the outlandish-idea factory that is London's Royal College of Art's Design Interactions program, Revell has theorized an alternate future seemingly ripped straight from the wet neural material of Michael Crichton.

It begins in Amsterdam, where shady bioengineers are altering the DNA of fungi to create huge organisms with narcotic properties, sort of like Godzilla 'shrooms. The plan is to chop up these primo porcini and sell them as drugs on the black market, but things go awry when somebody makes off with a sample and disappears. The Amsterdam crime syndicate should've known better: It's just smart drug-business practice to make your lab workers titrate and pipette naked.

The sample eventually surfaces in Dharavi, a Mumbai slum full of civil-war refugees that has little semblance of law and order. I'll let Revell explain the rest, via his website:

Sometime later a cache of biological samples appeared through the criminal networks of Mumbai, in the vain hope that it might provide new marketable narcotic opportunities. The collective drive and expertise of the refugees managed to turn theses genetically-engineered fungal samples into a new type of infrastructure - providing heat, light and building material for the refugees. Dharavi rapidly evolved it's own micro-economy based around the mushrooms.

So it's a feel-good story of a community pulling itself up by its sandals to become self-sufficient on humongous, building-shadowing lichens. What's not to love about this idea, aside from the thought of one of these monstrosities breaking off and crushing a dozen families on the street?

Revell's actually made a decently produced faux-documentary about Mumbai's mushroom boom, which you can watch below. After viewing it, you probably won't be surprised that, aside for inflated woodland flora, Revell lists his hobbies as "theoretical physics, explaining theoretical physics, word games, objectivity in conspiracy theories, failed architecture, cryptozoology, unexplained phenomena, forgotten events, music, paradoxes, video games, clever jokes and cycling."

(All images courtesy of Tobias Revell. H/t to reader's submissions forum at Designboom)

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Equity

    What the New Urban Anchors Owe Their Cities

    Corporations like Google and Amazon reap the spoils of winner-take-all urbanism. Here’s how they can also bear greater responsibility.

  2. Rescue crews and observers on top of the rubble from a collapsed building that fell in the Condesa neighborhood of Mexico City.
    Environment

    A Brigade of Architects and Engineers Rushed to Assess Earthquake Damage in Mexico City

    La Casa del Arquitecto became the headquarters for highly skilled urbanists looking to help and determine why some buildings suffered more spectacularly than others.

  3. Transportation

    Why Are Little Kids in Japan So Independent?

    In Japan, small children take the subway and run errands alone, no parent in sight. The reason why has more to do with social trust than self-reliance.

  4. A LimeBike is pictured next to a Capital Bikeshare dock.
    Transportation

    Bike Share, Unplanned

    Three private bike-share companies are determined to shake up the streets of D.C. But what, exactly, are they trying to disrupt?

  5. Amazon's Seattle headquarters is pictured.
    Life

    The Ultimate List of Top Contenders for Amazon's HQ2

    We sorted through the longshots and likely contenders so you don’t have to.