An amazing brick like structure ‘grown’ from mushroom cells – coming to New York City this June.

 Made from organic material that can be turned into fertilizer, this installation will show off a radical, zero-waste building technology that could help chill down sweltering city streets.

This June, a new kind of building will sprout up outside MoMA PS1 – one of the oldest and largest nonprofit contemporary art institutions in the United States.

The art museum, located in Long Island City, New York, has chosen the project ‘HiFi’ by The Living (David Benjamin) as the winner of this years Young Architects Program (YAP). The prize: Design a temporary urban landscape for the 2014 Warm Up summer music series in MoMA PS1’s outdoor courtyard this June.

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 Hy-Fi is more than just an art piece. It could also present a radical alternative to building up our city’s future–one that’s inspired by biology, stretched even further by human technology, and part of a zero-waste, cradle-to-grave cycle.

Instead of mining vast amounts of sandstone or transporting in heavy weighted metal, all of Hy-Fi‘s prep work will take place on-site, explains Benjamin, principal architect at The Living and director of Columbia University’s Living Architecture Lab. The bricks will be produced/grown by the startup Ecovative. They will be grown from mycelium which are mushroom cells that grow upwards and outwards like a branch. The mycelium will be combined with agricultural waste such as corn stalks, which will then fuse and shape into a solid brick allowing the architect to create which ever structurally sound shape they can imagine.

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It’s really inexpensive, almost cheaper than anything… It emits no carbon, it requires almost zero energy, and it doesn’t create any waste – infact it almost absorbs waste. We think that’s a pretty new and pretty revolutionary way of making building materials.

If Hy-Fi is the way of the future, it looks very different from many of the stark, Jetsons-like visions we often see. But Benjamin is convinced that biology can teach us how to build structures that are more than just resilient–he believes nature can show us how to make materials that actually perform better under stress. Buildings, he believes, are just as much a part of the larger ecosystem as flora and fauna.

I for one am very excited to see this level of sustainable architecture taking place in the big apple. It’s going to be a real eye opener to the lucky individuals that will get a chance to see, touch and embrace this new type of archtecture – a glimpse into the future of construction.

The remainder of this article is written by Sydney Brownstone, New York-based staff writer at Co.Exist

“It’s our interest and our belief that a single building, a single piece of architecture, can’t and shouldn’t be considered alone,” Benjamin says. “When that building comes down, those materials need to go somewhere. The building interacts with the forces of wind and water. The building consumes energy. The building interacts with people and culture and society.”

But the building’s a hybrid–it’s part-synthetic, too. Hy-Fi will also feature a material designed by 3M, the manufacturer of Post-Its and Scotch Tape, to make some of the bricks at the top of the structure reflective. Some of the brick molds, or plastic trays, will also act like mirrors that grab sunlight from the top of the structure and bounce it down into the low, cool, dark spaces at the bottom.

Hi-Fy also inverts the way typical brick buildings work. Instead of having heavier materials at the bottom, Hi-Fy draws in cool air at the base, which is more porous, then pushes hot air out the top, similar to how a heart muscle pumps blood.

At the end of the installation, the local nonprofit Build It Green will help compost the building and put the materials to use as fertilizer.

To Benjamin, the building represents a fusion of natural systems and human ingenuity, though wherever you draw the line between the two is an ongoing debate. “We’re using some of the most fascinating properties of biological systems, but also extending them, using human technologies to enable new possibilities with them,” Benjamin says. “This is not just a return to nature, but a hyper nature.”




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