‘Hy-Fi’ by the Living at MoMA PS1

I visited MoMA PS1 to catch a glimpse of the Living’s ‘Hy-Fi’ project, an architectural sculpture built entirely of organic, compostable bricks that won MoMA PS1’s Young Architects Program annual project. Made entirely from discarded corn stalks and root-like mushroom structures, the bricks are one of the most sustainable building materials present today. With the entire project’s lifespan already planned out – local nonprofit storefront Build It Green is in charge of composting the bricks in the fall – this year’s PS1 courtyard boasts one of the most ecologically progressive iterations of the summer pavilion yet. But the sculpture’s architecture and formation of public space are not to go unnoticed. Towering over the courtyard of the museum, the structure is stunning yet functional: it was designed specifically to create a micro-climate, its chimney-like shape drawing in cool air through the bottom and pushing it out the top. The form flows organically from the gravel of the museum to the shined metal brick molds at the top, recalling the trunk of an enormous tree.

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Entering the work, the pleasantly faint, seemingly damp smell of mushrooms floats through the space. In the July heat, the interior’s cool air beckons. The only thing visible through the funnels of the interior is the blue and white sky, recalling the surreal experience of James Turrell‘s ‘Meeting’  (also on view at the museum). The structure forms an oasis in the middle of New York’s urban heat through both material and design, and though the monochrome bricks are at first glance relatively sterile, the space created by ‘Hy-Fi’ lends the comfort of a forested upstate enclave. It creates a welcoming space while engaging with the possibilities of current technology and unites form, function, and material in a way that’s both viscerally engaging and scientifically exciting.

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The Living, a New York-based eco/bio design team, enlisted the help of materials company Ecovative Design to present ‘Hy-Fi;’ their unconventional collaboration is an integral brick in the ideological tower of the idea that contemporary art institutions serve as meeting points for the discussion of our cultural, social, and scientific realities. This particular work is a platform on which the future of architecture, art, and materials can be imagined and eventually – very soon, one would hope – realized.

More photos below.

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Patrick Jaojoco

‘Hy-Fi’ is on view at MoMA PS1 until September 6, 2014. All photos by Patrick Jaojoco.

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