Every summer, MoMA and MoMA PS1’s Young Architects Program offers emerging designers the opportunity to develop innovative structures to serve as the backdrop for MoMA PS1’s Warm Up summer music series. This summer, be sure to stop by the courtyard at MoMA PS1 to marvel at the beauty of The Living’s Hy-Fi, a structure built entirely of organic material. This piece of architecture was tested to withstand hurricane winds, sun, rain, and the outdoor music series, proving that organic materials just might be the building blocks of the future.
By Megan Guerber
The structures of MoMA PS1’s Young Architects Program must address sustainability, recycling and other environmental issues as well as provide seating, water and shade. Now in its 15th year, the Young Architects Program has brought many visually stunning designs to PS1’s courtyard and provided an important platform for groundbreaking architectural advancements.
This year’s winning design was created by The Living, an architecture firm dedicated to environmentally responsible design. Looking to establish an architecture of the future built within a local economy, The Living experimented with growing organic bricks that literally require zero energy to create and which could be sourced within a 150 mile radius.
Led by David Benjamin, The Living took inspiration from the local food movements happening around the country to figure out a way to build with locally sourced materials. For Hy-Fi the group used corn stalks and fungi to grow a load-bearing brick that literally comes from the earth and will one day fully return to the earth with zero waste and zero carbon emissions.
Hy-Fi is a play on the term hyphae—the lengthy tubes that form a fungus’ structure. These root structures were specially developed for the project by New York-based Ecovative, while the growing trays were designed by 3M. At the end of the project, the growing trays will return to 3M for continued research, while the organic bricks will be composted and donated to local NYC community gardens and tree planting initiatives.
The resulting structure is a light-filled tower of three connected cylinders reaching to the sky. The rounded forms blend into each other, generating surprising geometrical nooks and openings that feel like something one would find in nature. Though built more to absorb weight rather than withhold it, the bricks feel like solid material and the spacing between bricks allows for light to filter in. At the top of the structure, silver bricks—the molds used to build organic bricks below—reflect light both downward and outward. Their inclusion not only shows a resourcefulness of material, but also a thoughtful consideration of architectural history. While silver may mimic the material of the skyscraper, Hy-Fi’s overall fluid structure departs from standard urban architecture toward a new future.
To learn more about the how the structure was built, watch this video via the Creators Project on ArchDaily.
Hy-Fi through September 6, 2014
Thursday - Monday from 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
22-25 Jackson Ave.
General Admission $10