An architecture project employed science (read that as: “SCIENCE!” *thunderclap*) to create bricks from a fungus root material and compostable crop waste such as corn husks. The project was headed by The Living’s David Benjamin who used the bricks to design build a large structure titled Hy-Fi outside of the Museum of Modern Art in Long Island City, New York. The exhibit opened June 27 and will run through September 6, 2014.
MoMA’s PS1 organization awarded the exhibit to Benjamin as part of its Young Architect’s Program. The call for submissions challenged architects to create an outdoor art installation that also addresses environmental issues. Benjamin’s proposal uses waste products and -unlike conventional bricks which require a substantial amount of heat during the firing process- it has almost no energy needs and no carbon emissions. The process is similar to a technique CFile covered a couple issues ago in its article about bricks which were “grown” from bacteria. Both methods use organic materials to create bricks inside a mold. One difference between the two methods are the textures they produce. The fungus bricks are thin and porous (although still load-bearing) and the bacteria bricks produce a material similar to sandstone.
The structure itself is a circular tower of organic and reflective bricks, which achieve this property after a special mirror film is applied to them. The reflective bricks were used as growing trays for the organic bricks and were used near the crown of the final structure. They reflect light inside the tower and onto the ground below. Hy-Fi is even climate-controlled. Its chimney shape draws cooler air in from the ground and directs warm air through the top.
The video accompanying this post suggests that the mushroom-organic waste mixture can be used in a variety of molds, meaning we could be on the verge of a spongier, more sci-fi branch of ceramic artwork.
Bill Rodgers is a Contributing Editor at CFile.
Above image: The Living’s Hy-Fi installation at the Museum of Modern Art. Photographs accompanying this post by Kris Graves.
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A short video by Brooklyn Digital Foundry which explains the Hy-Fi project.