This Building is Made Out of Mushrooms and Corn

Biotech and architecture combine at New York's MoMA PS1 museum.

New York tourists flock to MoMA in the summer, as much for the art as the air conditioning. But New York locals cross the East River to MoMA PS1, the sister museum in Queens that hosts the popular Warm-Up summer party series.

Warm Up’s main draw is a forward-thinking DJ lineup and a large architectural installation in the museum’s courtyard. What’s unusual about this year’s installation—a tubular tower called Hy-Fi—is that although it was designed by a firm called The Living, it basically built itself.

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A rendering of Hy-Fi at MoMA PS1 in New York. [Image: The Living]

Hy-Fi is made out of self-assembling organic bricks. Here’s how it works: A mushroom root material called mycelium is combined with corn husks, an agricultural waste product. The mixture is packed into a mold of any shape and left alone. Within five days, it will grow to fill the mold, and over time it solidifies into a hardy building material. In this case, the actual brick molds were incorporated into the building too—they make up the top of the tower and reflect sunshine back down into the structure, creating patterns of light.

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Distant view of Hy-Fi at MoMA PS1 in New York. [Image: The Living]

The building is more eco-friendly than Captain Planet; the construction process created almost zero carbon emissions and the organic bricks are 100% compostable. Pedro Gadanho, Curator in MoMA’s Department of Architecture and Design, calls them the material of the future. “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 fulfill ever new uses and purposes,” he says on the museum’s website.

One day we won’t just be growing organic food, but organic houses as well.

[via Modern Farmer]

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