A Tower Grown From Fungus is Venturing to NYC This Summer

By Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan on at

Buildings "grown" from fungus and other organic materials may seem like a far-off concept to some. But this summer, a group of young Brooklyn architects are planning to demonstrate just how real the technology is—by building a tower out of bricks "grown" from mycelium, a root-like fungus, in the courtyard of MoMA P.S.1.

The curators at MoMA P.S.1 have announced that they've chosen the Brooklyn firm The Living to design the outdoor pavilion that sits in their courtyard every summer. The Living's plan is to build a series of towers using bricks grown from farming refuse and mycelium. At the end of the summer, the structure will be torn down and composted.

A Tower Grown From Fungus Is Coming to NYC This Summer

If you're utterly confused, here's the backstory. Evocative is a young, upstate New York company that has pioneered the use of mycelium—the stringy fungus that grows incredibly quickly, forming around whatever space it has to grow. Evocative uses the stuff to create completely compostable packaging, insulation, and a host of other products.

A Tower Grown From Fungus Is Coming to NYC This Summer

But thus far, Ecovative's rather amazing process hasn't been harnessed by many architects. That's set to change within a few months. The Living's design, Hy-fi, proposes a sinuous set of cooling towers--the space is meant to cool down party-goers at P.S.1's summer events--that are built out of two sets of bricks. At the top, reflective bricks made from a new daylighting mirror film invented by 3M are intended to draw hot air up through the tower.

A Tower Grown From Fungus Is Coming to NYC This Summer

But the lower sections will be built with 100 per cent organic bricks, grown using Ecovative's mycelium process. Each brick will be formed by putting refuse from farms—corn stocks and the like—into a brick mold, then letting the fungus loose inside to do its thing. Within a few days, presto—a completely compostable building material.

A Tower Grown From Fungus Is Coming to NYC This Summer

The structure, say the curators at MoMA, will accrue "almost no waste, no energy needs, and no carbon emissions." [MoMA; The Living]