New York’s Compostable Tower for MOMA

Friday, February 28th, 2014
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The Living Compostable Tower
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Modern design has explored using fungi in furniture, chairs created from artichokes and walnut shells moulded into counter tops.

Now, Brooklyn-based design firm The Living is taking biological design to new heights by utilising agricultural waste to build a tower.

The ambitious project, entitled Hy-Fi, will explore a new approach in bio-architecture as part of an exhibition for the Museum of Modern Art’s (MOMA) PS1 Gallery in Queens, New York.

Cooling Towers

Cooling Towers

The concept won MOMA’s annual Young Architects Program (YAP), an initiative that invites emerging architectural talent to develop a temporary outdoor installation at the PS1 Gallery to house visitors of MOMA’s summer music series.

The temporary urban space is expected to provide shade, seating and water while demonstrating innovative, sustainable and recyclable design.

The Living will work in collaboration with sustainable building company Ecovative to develop the project, which is set to open this June.

The circular tower has an organic look and will be constructed with 100 per cent organic materials and assembled with a combination of organic and reflective bricks.

Urban Landscape for MOMA's Summer Music Series

Urban Landscape for MOMA’s Summer Music Series

Hy-Fi will also be a net zero energy tower.

“The structure temporarily diverts the natural carbon cycle to produce a building the grows out of nothing but earth and returns to nothing but earth- with almost no waste, no energy needs and no carbon emissions,” MOMA said.

The organic bricks (also known as biobricks) consist of agricultural waste and fungal mycelium. MOMA said the bricks are produced through an innovative combination of corn stalks and specifically developed living root structures, a process that was invented by Evocative.

While the reflective bricks act as “growing trays” for the organic bricks, they also use a process developed by 3M which produces a daylighting mirror film that filters natural light into the tower, creating “caustic patterns.”

Evocative Bio Building Materials

Evocative Bio Building Materials

“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,” MOMA said.

Hy-Fi is also regulated to create a cool micro-climate through its stack-effect construction by draining in cool air at the bottom of the tower and pushing out hot air at the top.

At the end of the Hy-Fi’s summer reign, the reflective bricks will be returned to 3M for research while the tower itself will be composted.

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