John Locke received a Global Finalist 2015 certificate on behalf of the team from The Living architecture lab for their “Hy-Fi” project that is researching zero-carbon bricks using recent advances in biotechnology combined with cutting-edge computation and engineering. As part of the celebration of the Global Awards Bronze prize in New York City, the certificate was handed over by Marc Angélil, member of the Global Awards jury 2015 and member of the Board of the LafargeHolcim Foundation.
Marc Angélil, Professor of Architecture & Design at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich), noted the innovation of the project for examining the possibility of creating a structure that is made of a biodegradable substance. The organic bricks, made of a combination of corn stalks and fungal organisms, are carbon free and produce almost no waste at the end of the building’s lifecycle.
John Locke announced that The Living were conducting further lab experiments that expanded on the knowledge developed by “Hy-Fi” to trial further experiences with “live” materials to deliver a more organic building material in the future. The “Hy-Fi” project was an excellent showcase of the potential of compostable bricks and recognition received through the Awards had provided extra motivation and generated momentum for furthering the project.See more
The idea sounds almost too good to be true: Bricks are created from fungus-enriched cornstalk waste, and they can be used to build a tower. And it’s not just a utopian dream, as a project in New York proves.
In 2014 a project called Hy-Fi by the New York architectural office “The Living” led by David Benjamin was chosen as the winner of the “Young Architects Program.” David Benjamin is a social scientist and architect. He and his colleagues at “The Living” build unusual projects such as their pop-up athletics stadium for sporting goods manufacturer Nike. He constantly seeks innovation – as can be seen in the tripartite round tower ensemble Hy-Fi, standing over twelve meters tall. But only when you look closely: The towers are not built of clay brick, as it first seems. Each masonry unit is a naturally-grown composite element consisting of chopped corn stalks and mushroom mycelium.
“We believe that the material is revolutionary,” enthuses David Benjamin.
As one of the three main Holcim Awards winners for North America in 2014, “Hy-Fi” automatically qualified as a finalist in the Global Holcim Awards 2015. All 15 finalist project teams were asked to submit an updated and more comprehensive entry that was evaluated by a global jury in March 2015.
The results of the global phase of the 4th Holcim Awards competition were announced on April 20, 2015.
The winners of the global phase of the 4th International Holcim Awards competition will be revealed on April 20, 2015. The results will be announced via the Holcim Awards website www.holcimawards.org.
The USD 2 million Holcim Awards is the most significant international competition for sustainable design. The jury composed of renowned specialists from around the world and headed by Mohsen Mostafavi, Dean of the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University (USA) will evaluate 15 projects out of more than 6,000 submissions. The finalists are the winners of the Holcim Awards Gold, Silver, and Bronze Awards 2014 in each of the five competition regions of the world.
The finalist projects competing for one of the three Global Holcim Awards prizes are located in Austria, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, France, Italy, Lebanon, Mexico, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Turkey, and the USA and were entered by authors from these countries as well as from Germany, the Netherlands, and Spain. They reflect a broad variety of the current interpretation of sustainable construction combined with architectural excellence and enhanced quality of life beyond technical intervention.
The submissions will be evaluated by the Global Holcim Awards 2015 jury including Marc Angélil, Senior Dean of Architecture and Urban Design at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich, Switzerland), Alejandro Aravena, Principal of Elemental (Chile), Maria Atkinson, Founding Director of the Australian Green Building Council (Australia), Meisa Batayneh Maani, Principal of maisam architects and engineers (Jordan), Yolanda Kakabadse, President of WWF International (Ecuador), Mohsen Mostafavi, Dean of the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University (USA), Matthias Schuler, Principal of Transsolar(Germany), and Rolf Soiron, Chairman of the Board of the Holcim Foundation (Switzerland).
The winners of the global prizes will share prize money of USD 350,000. Previous winners of the tri-annual Global Holcim Awards include Bureau EAST (Los Angeles, USA), Centola + Associati (Salerno, Italy), Coelacanth and Associates (Tokyo, Japan), Ingenhoven und Partner Architekten (Dusseldorf, Germany), Kéré Architecture (Berlin, Germany), L’OEUF (Montreal, Canada), Public Architecture (San Francisco, USA), Proyectos Arqui5 (Caracas, Venezuela), realities:united (Berlin, Germany), Tsinghua University (Beijing, China), and Urban-Think Tank (São Paulo, Brazil).
About the Holcim Foundation and Holcim
The Swiss-based Holcim Foundation promotes and illustrates the strength of diverse strategies of achieving greater sustainability of the built environment. As part of its approach, the Foundation publishes booklets on outstanding examples of applied sustainable construction. The initiatives of the Holcim Foundation include the USD 2 million Holcim Awards – the most significant international competition for sustainable design.
Since it was established in 2003, the Foundation has been supported by Holcim in more than 70 countries worldwide and is independent of commercial interests. Holcim is one of the world’s leading suppliers of cement and aggregates (crushed stone, gravel and sand) as well as further activities such as ready-mix concrete and asphalt, including services.See more
The organic brick structure “Hy-Fi” was the centrepiece of the Museum of Modern Art’s summer festival from June until September 2014. The tower’s construction is virtually energy and emission-free – a prototype for the architecture of the future. The design focuses on the use of an innovative building material: organic, biodegradable bricks consisting of no more than the waste from corn crops and a culture of fungus that functions as the binding agent. As the fungus grows, the material expands to tightly fit a brick-shaped mold.
“Hy-Fi” is a reference to “hypha”, which is the type of living organism used to manufacture the building blocks of the project. Using a pioneering method of bio-design, the structure was formed entirely of organic matter, integrating biological technologies alongside advanced computer-based engineering. The structure that was designed for and commissioned by the MoMA PS1 Young Architects Program is formed by three circular towers that merge into one another, creating an intriguing building while also exploring a new paradigm for the architectural design and manufacture of the built environment. The form is designed to draw breezes through the towers and cool the shaded interior further.
Computer-aided design enabled the team to explore a range of shapes and scenarios. Structural testing data of the bricks was then interwoven by the consulting structural engineers to ensure the towers were both new and experimental – but also structurally-sound in terms of withstanding hurricane-strength winds, rain, and human engagement.
The process of diverting the natural carbon cycle requires no energy and produces zero carbon emissions. The organic blocks are manufactured through a combination of discarded corn stalks and specially developed living root-like structures from mushrooms. “Hy-Fi” was the first large-scale structure to use this mushroom brick technology, based on a technique developed by Ecovative and, until now, generally used to make eco-packaging. The bricks can be grown in five days, and are stacked to create a structure.
The top layers of the structure were formed through the custom-forming of a mirror film devised by 3M. The reflective layers capture more light into the interior of the structure, but are also a covert reference to New York’s existing architecture of low-rise red brick and towering skyscrapers.
The project also examines the potential of local production economies, with all materials used throughout the structure’s lifecycle sourced from within 250km radius of the site – echoing the approach of the local food production movement. The structure was removed in September, the mushroom bricks then composted in New York City, and used to enrich the soil of community gardens and parks. This returned the building material to the carbon cycle, and the molds – which are covered in a special light-refracting film invented by 3M – sent back to 3M for further research.See more
“Hy-Fi: Zero carbon emissions compostable structure, New York, USA” was designed for and commissioned by the MoMA PS1 Young Architects Program. Architect and Holcim Awards Bronze winner David Benjamin explains that organic bricks are carbon free and produce almost no waste at the end of the building’s lifecycle.
A cluster of circular towers formed using reflective bricks, designed for and commissioned by the MoMA PS1 Young Architects Program for construction in New York City received the Holcim Awards Bronze. The structure by David Benjamin of The Living architecture lab (USA) uses recent advances in biotechnology combined with cutting-edge computation and engineering to create new building materials that are almost fully organically-grown and compostable. The jury applauded the investigatory nature of the project, both in terms of its objective to research innovative construction materials and their architectural potential using organic bricks, made of a combination of corn stalks and fungal organisms.Read full media release – Holcim Awards 2014 for North America » pour en savoir plus (French) »
A cluster of circular towers formed using reflective bricks, designed for and commissioned by the MoMA PS1 Young Architects Program for construction in New York City received the Holcim Awards Bronze. The structure by David Benjamin of The Living architecture lab (USA) uses recent advances in biotechnology combined with cutting-edge computation and engineering to create new building materials that are almost fully organically-grown and compostable. The jury applauded the investigatory nature of the project, both in terms of its objective to research innovative construction materials and their architectural potential using organic bricks, made of a combination of corn stalks and fungal organisms.
The jury applauds the investigatory nature of the project, both in terms of its objective to research innovative construction materials and their architectural potential. Specifically valued is the idea to test the possibility of creating a structure that is made of a biodegradable substance. The organic bricks, made of a combination of corn stalks and fungal organisms, are carbon free and produce almost no waste at the end of the building’s lifecycle. Most interesting is the “low-tech biotech” approach of the project, which offers great promise for applications at a larger scale. The design’s architectural expression appears to defy the force of gravity through a play of light effects and mesmerizing colors.
Hy-Fi is a cluster of circular towers formed using reflective bricks, designed for and commissioned by the MoMA PS1 Young Architects Program for construction in New York City. The structure uses recent advances in biotechnology combined with cutting-edge computation and engineering to create new building materials that are almost fully organically grown and compostable – a new paradigm for design and manufacturing. Beyond the use of technological innovations, the tower assembly ultimately touches the senses, while challenging perceptual expectations through unexpected relationships of patterns, color, and light.
If the twentieth century was the “Century of Physics”, then the twenty-first century is the “Century of Biology”. The structure utilizes a new method of bio-design that is almost 100% grown and 100% compostable. Hy-Fi temporarily diverts the natural carbon cycle to produce a building that grows out of nothing but earth and returns to nothing but earth. This “low-tech biotech” method offers a new vision for society’s approach to architecture and physical objects. It also offers a new definition of local materials, and a direct relationship to New York State’s agriculture and innovation culture, New York City artists and non-profits, and Queens community gardens.
The structure is a circular tower of organic and reflective bricks. The bricks are designed to combine the unique properties of two new materials. The organic bricks are produced through a revolutionary combination of corn stalks (that otherwise have no value) and living root structures. This process has been industrialized by an innovative new collaborating partner company called Ecovative that is co-developing a custom process for the project.
The reflective bricks are produced through custom-forming of a new daylighting mirror film invented by 3M. In collaboration with 3M, novel uses for this material have been developed. The reflective bricks are used as growing trays for the organic bricks, and then incorporated into the final construction before being shipped back to 3M for use in further research.
The structure inverts the logic of load-bearing brick construction and creates a gravity-defying effect: instead of being thick and dense at the bottom, it is thin and porous at the bottom. The structure is calibrated to create a cool micro-climate in the summer by drawing in cool air at the bottom and pushing out hot air at the top. The structure creates mesmerizing light effects on its interior walls through reflected caustic patterns (refracted rays of sunlight). The structure offers a familiar-yet-completely-new structure in the context of the glass towers of the New York City skyline and the brick construction of the PS1 building. And overall, Hy-Fi offers shade, color, light, views, and a future-oriented experience that is refreshing, thought-provoking, and full of wonder and optimism.Download project entry poster (PDF, 2.98 MB) »See more
A cluster of circular towers formed using reflective bricks, designed for and commissioned by the MoMA PS1 Young …
“Hy-Fi: Zero carbon emissions compostable structure, New York, USA” was designed for and commissioned by the MoMA PS1 …
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