Hot spots: In the shadow of the giant mushroom
by Sara Bertsche | Aug 8, 2014
The installation “Hy-Fi” by David Benjamin is the winner of the competition “Young Architects Program 2014”. Photo © Susan L Shafer

When the air between the rows of high-rises in the Big Apple starts to shimmer in the summer heat, then the temptation to simply sit down under a shady tree is greater than that to wander round the latest exhibitions in the city’s countless art museums and galleries. But “MoMa PS1” has set out to help you resist the temptation with a “not only/but also” approach: In the courtyard, visitors are greeted not by a leafy panoply but by a huge mushroom-like structure called “Hy-Fi”: devised by architect David Benjamin it provides a cool and enjoyable space.

The temporary installation is just under thirteen meters high – an amorphous structure of three interlocking tubes that tower up into the sky like chimney stacks. But they vent no smoke, and instead warm air from inside the installation. Because their shape and the material used (bricks with a special reflective foil courtesy of 3M that thus repels light rays) ensure that there’s a refreshing touch of a breeze inside the “Hy-Fi” as cool air is drawn in at the bottom.

The bricks were produced by New York’s “Ecovative” company, which is specialized in manufacturing organic building materials. In an effort to make alternative and eco-friendly construction materials available, in their workshop they brewed up a mixture of corn stalks and specially developed living root structures in rectangular growing trays. Countless microorganisms set the growth process in motion, meaning that the production of the Hy-Fi’s building blocks required no external energy inputs. So, head for PS1 and enjoy the summer in the cooling installation towers.

“Hy-Fi” – Young Architects Program
June 27 - September 6, 2014
PS1 Contemporary Art Centre

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The bricks of the “giant mushroom“ are bio-degradable – during the production process no emission is set free. Photo © Susan L Shafer
Little gaps in the wall are producing a play of light inside the installation. Photo © Susan L Shafer
A rim of mirror bricks is building the top of the tubes, reflecting incident light. Photo © Susan L Shafer
“Hy-Fi“ is thirteen meters tall, you only see it’s full shape from a distance. Photo © Susan L Shafer
The ecologic giant mushroom: a welcome place in New York’s summer heat. Photo © Susan L Shafer
“Hy-Fi“ is peeking out behind the walls of the PS1 area. Photo © Susan L Shafer