GSAPP Political and cultural conditions change: what if the walls and windows morphed in response? Air and water quality fluctuate: what if a cloud of light above the river modulated its color as a public display of contamination? Demands for occupation of space shift across days, seasons, and years: what if traditionally mute and inert building materials appeared and disappeared accordingly? A dynamic world calls for responsiveness. Responsiveness in architecture calls for new systems.
David Benjamin's The Living Evolves The Living's installation, Hy-Fi, in the courtyard at MoMA/P.S.1 in Queens, New York. The smell is distinctive—not offensive, but definitely farm-like. “I think it smells like hay,” says architect David Benjamin looking up at the three conjoined brick towers rising above the courtyard at MoMA/P.S.1, the Museum of Modern Art-administered contemporary art space in Queens, New York. Benjamin made his olfactory observation last week at an opening event for Hy-Fi, a temporary installation designed by his firm, The Living. The work’s fragrance comes from its experimental masonry, which is made from chopped up corn stalks and mycelium, a root organism in fungus that develops into mushrooms. Placed in a mold, the living mixture grows and solidifies into bricks over the course of five days.
Interactive Media Installation VR/Urban is a collective of public media inverntionistas founded in 2008 and since then more or less working together to create public media realtime installations. The aim of all projects is to reclaim urban screen for the public. In tradition of situative art and graffiti culture, VR/Urban augments existing city structures with digital and interactive media-art. The collective strongly believes in embodiement, accessibility and the tangibilty of information, so that each installation has a very performative and challenging character. Biomimicry Institute - Termite-Inspired Air Conditioning Architect Mick Pearce collaborated with engineers at Arup Associates to build a mid-rise building in Harare, Zimbabwe that has no air-conditioning, yet stays cool thanks to a termite-inspired ventilation system. The Eastgate building is modeled on the self-cooling mounds of Macrotermes michaelseni, termites that maintain the temperature inside their nest to within one degree of 31 °C, day and night, - while the external temperature varies between 3 °C and 42 °C. Eastgate uses only 10 percent of the energy of a conventional building its size, saved 3.5 million in air conditioning costs in the first five years, and has rents that are 20% lower than a newer building next door. The TERMES project, organized by Rupert Soar of Loughborough University, is digitally scanning termite mounds to map the three dimensional architecture in a level of detail never achieved before.
Architect Magazine A Nobel laureate sits in the corner of the light-filled dining room, but David Benjamin is too busy trading stories with a world-renowned developmental biologist to notice. Spotting a Nobelist such as Günter Blobel (awarded the prize in 1999 for physiology) isn’t unusual at Rockefeller University, a celebrated biomedical research center on the Upper East Side in New York. Rather, it is Benjamin and his graduate students from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation (GSAPP) who stand out among the scientists eating lunch there on this March afternoon. Benjamin and his protégés have come for an informal pin-up and laboratory tour with Ali Brivanlou, the pioneering stem cell and embryo development researcher. It’s not a typical day in the studio for the students, but for Benjamin, 38, crossing disciplines represents the core of his work. After you studied social studies as an undergrad, how did you find your way to architecture?
BIOMIMETIC ARCHITECTURE: Green Building in Zimbabwe Modeled After Termite Mounds Biomimicry’s Cool Alternative: Eastgate Centre in Zimbabwe The Eastgate Centre in Harare, Zimbabwe, typifies the best of green architecture and ecologically sensitive adaptation. The country’s largest office and shopping complex is an architectural marvel in its use of biomimicry principles. The mid-rise building, designed by architect Mick Pearce in conjunction with engineers at Arup Associates, has no conventional air-conditioning or heating, yet stays regulated year round with dramatically less energy consumption using design methods inspired by indigenous Zimbabwean masonry and the self-cooling mounds of African termites! Termites in Zimbabwe build gigantic mounds inside of which they farm a fungus that is their primary food source.
Federici + Benjamin - Synthetic Aesthetics "Biocomputation" by David Benjamin and Fernan Federici has recently been exhibited at En Vie/ Alive: New Design Frontiers at the Espace Fondation EDF, Paris, France, April 26 2013–September 1 2013. It was also shown at at Biodesign at the Netherlands Architecture Institute, Rotterdam, September 27 2013–January 26 2014, curated by William Myers. "In the growing discipline of synthetic biology, living systems are engineered to help solve problems across various industries. For this project, David Benjamin and his firm The Living are designing new composite building materials through a pioneering intersection of synthetic biology, architecture, and computation. These new composite materials offer insight into the near future when synthetic biology may help us design and manufacture the built environment with higher performance and lower environmental impact than traditional methods. This process, which is still being refined in the lab, is then modelled in a software workflow.
LUZES RELACIONAIS Haze, video cameras, projectors, speakers, custom software system, people Installation that creates a morphing, three-dimensional light-space in which spectators actively participate, manipulating it with their presence and movements. Created as a tribute to the work and aesthetic inquiry of Brazilian artist Lygia Clark (1920-1988.) “Luzes Relacionais” is a sponsored project of the New York Foundation for the Arts. This project is made possible, in part, with funds from the New York State Council on the Arts. Additional support has been provided by the generous grants from the Greenwall Foundation and the The Experimental Television Center’s Finishing Funds program.
ARC 3D Webservice The Webservice Welcome to the website of the ARC 3D webservice. We have developed a group of tools, allowing users to upload digital images to our servers where we perform a 3D reconstruction of the scene and report the output back to the user. We also provide a tool for producing and visualising the 3D scene using the data computed on our servers. Uploading Images The first simple application is the upload tool. D-Shape: Freeform Architectural 3D Printing Computation has enabled designers to manifest virtually any structure from the impossibly intricate to the most complexly curved surfaces we can conceive. Of course our Achilles heel is manufacturing these forms. Up to this point architects have had to achieve this by subtractive means (e.g. CNC routing, water jet, plasma, etc.) resulting in a slow and arduous process that yields a large amount of material waste, well not anymore!
INTERVIEW: Biotect David Benjamin on Building The World's First Mushroom Tower at PS1 You may have heard the riddle about mushrooms being the only rooms with no walls, but David Benjamin is flipping the script on the old joke with some incredible mycotecture built from mushroom bricks! The architect and his firm, The Living, are pushing the boundaries of design by experimenting with biotecture, blurring the lines between biology and built environments. Their latest efforts have culminated in the world’s first tower made from fungus, which debuted at MoMA PS1 in Queens, New York last week. We recently had the chance to pick Benjamin’s brain about the future of mycotecture (mushroom architecture), the benefits of biological buildings and what inspired this innovative new Hy-Fi tower in Queens. Read on to see what the biotect, innovator and director of the “Living Architecture Lab” at GSAPP has to say. INHABITAT: Your awesome experimental mushroom-brick Hy Fy towers just opened at the MoMA’s PS1 museum in New York City.