Corn Husks and Mushrooms: The Future of Architecture?

Does the future of architecture mean we will be living in houses made of corn husks and mushrooms? It just might. And that’s exactly what David Benjamin and his architecture firm, The Living, have created with “Hy-Fi,” a structure that will be the main attraction in the courtyard at New York’s Museum of Modern Art PS1 this summer.

Hy-fi — which won the 15th annual Young Architects Program — will be built by using self-assembling blocks comprised of chopped corn husks and specially-formulated mycelium, a mushroom root material that, when combined with the husk, can be packed into any shape that solidifies over time.

“Our organic bricks are exciting because they harness the incredible biological algorithm of mushroom roots and tune it to manufacture a new building material that grows in five days, with no waste, no input of energy, and no carbon emissions,” said Benjamin in an interview with Metropolis.

‘If the Twentieth Century was the century of physics, then the Twenty-First Century is the century of biology.’

The design of the building will also function as a cooling unit by pushing warm air upwards while colder air is drawn down to the courtyard to chill off guests in the New York City heat.

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“This material could really change the way people build,” says Pedro Gadanho, a curator at the MoMa’s Department of Architecture and Design. “It reinvents the most basic component of architecture, the brick, as both a material of the future and a classic trigger for open-ended design possibilities.”

Hy-fi will initially have mirror-coated reflective bricks placed at the top of the structure to bounce light onto the organic material below to help with the self-assembling process. And to stay true to the mostly carbon neutral nature of its construction, the bricks will be returned to the company that provided them.

“If the Twentieth Century was the century of physics,” says Benjamin, “then the Twenty-First Century is the century of biology. Biological technologies are advancing rapidly. Our structure uses biological technologies and cutting-edge computing and engineering to create a new paradigm of design.”

Corn Husks and Mushrooms: The Future of Architecture?