A curious fungus-based structure has sprouted from the courtyard of MoMA PS1 in Queens, NY, and it's blurring the lines between biology and architecture. Designed to be completely biodegradable and compostable, the new Hy-Fi tower by architect David Benjamin and his firm, The Living, is the world's first public pavilion constructed using self-assembling mycelium (mushroom root) bricks developed by NY-based materials company Ecovative. The fascinating form was the winner of this year's Young Architects Program competition, and will be unveiled to the public today. Click through our gallery for a sneak peek!
More than just a public pavilion, the Hy-Fi tower is an experiment in biological architecture using a new method of bio-design conceived by David Benjamin. Rather than manufacturing the bricks, Benjamin and The Living actually grew the organic “bio-bricks” that make up the structure by adding mycelium (a mushroom root material) and hemp to low-value corn crop waste collected from farmers. The mixture was then poured into rectangular molds in which the mycelium self-populated over the course of about five days. The resulting bio-bricks are made using almost no energy or carbon emissions, and can be composted at the end of their life cycle.
“For a few years, we have been exploring the intersection of biology, design, and computing,” Benjamin told Inhabitat. “And we have also been interested in buildings as complex ecosystems of ideas, materials, environments, technologies, and cultures. We have experimented with a variety of ways in which living biological systems can be used as bio computers or bio factories. Materials made from mycelium are a great, immediate example of all of these things —including the use of an organism to manufacture building materials, and the capacity of these building materials to engage the earth’s carbon cycle in a healthy way.”
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As you can see from our photos, the tower is also topped with shiny bricks that are actually the molds in which the organic bricks were grown. Coated in a reflective material developed by 3M, the molds serve a secondary purpose of refracting light down into the pavilion for those visiting the courtyard for MoMA PS1’s summer Warm-Up concert series. The Hy-Fi mushroom tower will open to the public on June 27th and will be on view through the summer until September 7th.
Photos ©Yuka Yoneda & Jill Fehrenbacher