New York To Host Fungus Tower

New Science / Sunday, February 9th, 2014


A new architectural structure is coming to New York City, and the bricks are going to grow themselves.

The new tower, called Hy-Fi, will actually be an art installation designed by architect David Benjamin, who is principal of The Living. His approach will be to construct the tall, lattice-like installation from self-assembling bricks (video).

He’ll achieve this by combining chopped up corn husks with specially formulated mycelium, the thready part of a fungus that Benjamin calls a mushroom root material. Then the mixture will go into a mold. Mycelium acts like a natural glue that essentially eats the husks over the course of a few days. Once the digested substance solidifies, you’ve got a lightweight block in the shape of the mold. Hat tip to FastCo.Design and The Verge.

Although using anything fungal to make building materials sounds gross, it’s actually smart. The Hy-Fi bricks remind me of the sustainable packaging Ecovative Design produces from agricultural waste and fungal mycelium. I’m not surprised that Benjamin decided to work with mycelium as well since you can grow sturdy, wood-like materials with it.

The Hy-Fi installation is scheduled to open late June outdoors at MoMA PS1 in Queens. Summers in New York City are usually so sticky that everyone seems like they’re stuck in fungal glue, especially on the Subway platform. At least where the Hy-Fi goes up, visitors will have a chance at catching a breeze.

Image: A rendering shows the Hy-Fi structure that will be created from self-assembling bricks. Credit: David Benjamin, The Living.



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