Hy-Fi, commissioned by the Museum of Modern Art and MoMA PS1, offers a captivating physical environment and a new paradigm for sustainable architecture.
For this project, we tested and refined a new low-energy building material, manufactured 10,000 compostable bricks, constructed a 40-foot-tall tower, hosted public cultural events for three months, disassembled the structure, composted the bricks, and returned the resulting soil to local community gardens. This successful experiment offers many possibilities for future architecture and construction.
We started by designing a new type of brick through an innovative combination of corn stalk waste and living mushrooms with root-like growth. The bricks are lightweight, low cost, and extremely sustainable. We then created the world’s first large-scale outdoor architecture out of this material.
This new construction material grows out of living materials and returns to the earth through composting at the end of the structure’s lifecycle. In contrast to typical short-sighted architecture, our project is designed to disappear as much as it is designed to appear.
Construction waste accounts for over 30% of landfill volume. Our project offers an alternative to this wasteful linear economy. We use low-value raw materials rather than highvalue ones, we use almost no energy to create building blocks rather than using massive energy, and we return demolition material to the earth in 60 days rather than burying it in landfills for hundreds of years.
Hy-Fi offers a familiar-yet-completely-new building in the context of the glass towers and typical brick construction of New York City. It represents a new vision for design and manufacturing with almost no waste, no energy consumption, and no carbon emissions. Overall, the project is full of wonder and optimism.