Innovative Eco Tower Concept From The Living

New York-based The Living recently opened their innovative new eco tower in MoMA’s PS1 space. Named Hy-fi, the design now occupies this space after winning MoMA PS1’s Young Architects Competition.
The structure boasts an interesting and modern design made up of several converging cylindrical towers, but this is far from the most interesting or innovative thing about Hy-Fi. That accolade belongs to its choice of materials. The structure is entirely organic, completely compostable, and includes a new form of brick made from fungus.
The bricks are made from a fungal culture grown on a diet of farm waste such as cornstalks. The fungal culture is grown on the agricultural waste products within a mould. When it grows and expands to fill the mould, the result is a perfect brick-shaped block of fungus. The technique was first created in 2007 by Ecovative. However, Hy-Fi is the first structure to make use of these blocks as a building material on a large scale. Until now, they have primarily been utilised by the packaging industry.

Video Source: Youtube The Creators Project 
At the end of the structure’s lifespan, the material will be composted meaning it will leave behind little or no impact on the landscape and no waste that will go to landfill. The tower’s construction was also carbon-neutral, as the bricks were produced with waste products in a process that requires virtually no energy input.
The carbon-neutral construction process was helped by the fact that blocks can be easily produced in a place that is local to the finished structure. This eliminates the need to have materials produced in specific parts of the world and then shipped globally – a process which produces a lot of greenhouse gases and has become commonplace in the construction industry. As the Living’s David Benjamin explained: “In this age of globalization, where typically, materials, especially raw materials for building, come from all over the world, we’re saying, ‘Actually there’s some scenarios where we can have a very local economy of materials and energy, a local footprint.'” Ultimately, all the materials for the project were produced within a radius of 150 miles.
As a building material, the bricks have a number of merits beyond their environmental credentials. They are cheap and economical to produce, as the raw materials are largely waste products and the bulk of the manufacturing process takes place organically without the need for electricity or the burning of fossil fuels. They also make for an extremely flexible building material, as they can be produced to possess a number of different properties. Strength, flexibility and resistance to water can all be controlled through the use of these bricks.
The structure of the project is designed to draw in breezes and provide a cool, airy interior. It takes its name from “hyphae,” the name of the fungus used to produce the bricks. It is designed to act in some ways as a proof of concept, demonstrating what organic building materials might achieve in the future.
Author: Matthew Scott