Organic tower grown from agricultural waste wins
MoMA PS1 Young Architects Program 2014

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News: New York studio The Living has won this year's MoMA PS1 Young Architects Program competition with plans to cultivate bio-bricks from corn stalks and mushrooms, and use them to build a tower in the courtyard of the New York gallery (+ slideshow).

Hy-Fi by The Living at MoMA PS1

The Living principal David Benjamin proposed a cluster of circular towers made entirely from natural materials for his entry to the Young Architects Program (YAP) contest, which each year invites emerging architects to propose a temporary structure that will host the summer events of the MoMA Ps1 gallery in Queens.

Hy-Fi by The Living at MoMA PS1

Named Hy-Fi, the structure will be constructed entirely from recyclable materials. The Living will collaborate with sustainable building firm Ecovative to grow the bricks that will form the base of the tower, using a combination of agricultural byproducts and mushroom mycelium -  a kind of natural digestive glue.

Hy-Fi by The Living at MoMA PS1

The upper section of the structure will be made from reflective bricks produced using a specially developed mirror film. Initially these will be used as growing trays for the organic bricks, but will later be installed at the top of the tower to help to bounce light down inside.

Gaps in the brickwork will help to naturally ventilate interior spaces using the stack effect, drawing cool air in at the bottom and pushing hot air out at the top.

Hy-Fi by The Living at MoMA PS1

MoMA curator Pedro Gadanho said: "This year's YAP winning project bears no small feat. It is the first sizeable structure to claim near-zero carbon emissions in its construction process and, beyond recycling, it presents itself as being 100 percent compostable."

"Recurring to the latest developments in biotech, it reinvents the most basic component of architecture - the brick - as both a material of the future and a classic trigger for open-ended design possibilities," he added.

Hy-Fi by The Living at MoMA PS1

Set to open in June, Hy-Fi will be accessible to MoMA Ps1 visitors during the 2014 Warm Up summer music series.

Here's the full announcement from MoMA:


The Living selected as winner of the 2014 Young Architects Program at MoMA PS1 in New York

The Museum of Modern Art and MoMA PS1 announce The Living (David Benjamin) as the winner of the annual Young Architects Program (YAP) in New York. Now in its 15th edition, the Young Architects Program at MoMA and MoMA PS1 has been committed to offering emerging architectural talent the opportunity to design and present innovative projects, challenging each year's winners to develop creative designs for a temporary, outdoor installation at MoMA PS1 that provides shade, seating, and water. The architects must also work within guidelines that address environmental issues, including sustainability and recycling. The Living, drawn from among five finalists, will design a temporary urban landscape for the 2014 Warm Up summer music series in MoMA PS1's outdoor courtyard.

The winning project, Hy-Fi, opens at MoMA PS1 in Long Island City in late June. Using biological technologies combined with cutting-edge computation and engineering to create new building materials, The Living will use a new method of bio-design, resulting in a structure that is 100% organic material. The structure temporarily diverts the natural carbon cycle to produce a building that grows out of nothing but earth and returns to nothing but earth - with almost no waste, no energy needs, and no carbon emissions. This approach offers a new vision for society's approach to physical objects and the built environment. It also offers a new definition of local materials, and a direct relationship to New York State agriculture and innovation culture, New York City artists and non-profits, and Queens community gardens.

Hy-Fi by The Living at MoMA PS1

Hy-Fi is a circular tower of organic and reflective bricks, which were designed to combine the unique properties of two new materials. The organic bricks are produced through an innovative combination of corn stalks (that otherwise have no value) and specially-developed living root structures, a process that was invented by Ecovative, an innovative company that The Living is collaborating with. The reflective bricks are produced through the custom-forming of a new daylighting mirror film invented by 3M. The reflective bricks are used as growing trays for the organic bricks, and then they are incorporated into the final construction before being shipped back to 3M for use in further research.

The organic bricks are arranged at the bottom of the structure and the reflective bricks are arranged at the top to bounce light down on the towers and the ground. The structure inverts the logic of load-bearing brick construction and creates a gravity-defying effect - instead of being thick and dense at the bottom, it is thin and porous at the bottom. The structure is calibrated to create a cool micro-climate in the summer by drawing in cool air at the bottom and pushing out hot air at the top. The structure creates mesmerising light effects on its interior walls through reflected caustic patterns. Hy-Fi offers a familiar - yet completely new - structure in the context of the glass towers of the New York City skyline and the brick construction of the MoMA PS1 building. And overall, the structure offers shade, colour, light, views, and a future-oriented experience that is designed to be refreshing, thought-provoking, and full of wonder and optimism.

Hy-Fi by The Living at MoMA PS1

"This year's YAP winning project bears no small feat. It is the first sizeable structure to claim near-zero carbon emissions in its construction process and, beyond recycling, it presents itself as being 100% compostable," said Pedro Gadanho, Curator in MoMA's Department of Architecture and Design. "Recurring to the latest developments in biotech, it reinvents the most basic component of architecture - the brick - as both a material of the future and a classic trigger for open-ended design possibilities. At MoMA PS1, The Living's project will be showcased as a sensuous, primeval background for the Warm-Up sessions; the ideas and research behind it, however, will live on to fulfil ever new uses and purposes."

Klaus Biesenbach, MoMA PS1 Director and MoMA Chief Curator at Large, adds, "After dedicating the whole building and satellite programs of MoMA PS1 to ecological awareness and climate change last year with EXPO 1: New York, we continue in 2014 with Hy-Fi, a nearly zero carbon footprint construction by The Living."

The other finalists for this year's MoMA PS1 Young Architects Program were Collective-LOK (Jon Lott, William O'Brien Jr., and Michael Kubo), LAMAS (Wei-Han Vivian Lee and James Macgillivray), Pita + Bloom (Florencia Pita and Jackilin Hah Bloom), and Fake Industries Architectural Agonism (Cristina Goberna and Urtzi Grau). An exhibition of the five finalists' proposed projects will be on view at MoMA over the summer, organized by Pedro Gadanho, Curator, with Leah Barreras, Department Assistant, Department of Architecture and Design, MoMA.