28 Days of Inspiration – Day 20: Grow your own… building

Grow your own building

James wonders if the buildings of the future will be built from bricks biologically engineered to grow themselves from plant waste and fungal cells? 

hy-fi-the-living-MoMA-PS1-young-architect-program-designboom-01Co.exist thinks so with their recent interview of David Benjamin, the creator of Hy-Fi, a giant circular tower that creates a cool micro-climate for pedestrians in searing city heat.

Hy-fi will be built this June at MoMA PS1 in New York using bricks, produced by the startup Ecovative, are grown from mycelium, or mushroom cells that grow upwards and outwards like a branch. Combined with agricultural waste like corn stalks, the materials fuse and shape into a solid brick–or into whatever shape the architect wants. And like other biological materials, when no longer needed as bricks, they can be composted and used as fertiliser.

The building is not just about using cradle-to-cradle thinking in material selection. The design itself turns the usual way that brick buildings work upside down. Lighter, porous materials are used at the base drawing cool air in, while hot air is vented from the top.

Given the high carbon-intensity many building materials (such as cement), this use of biological processes in construction results in a cheap building material that emits no carbon and creates no waste…

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