Studio Link-Arc's 'Inverted Architecture'

John Hill
16. March 2023
Photo: Yu Bai (All images courtesy of v2com)

Studio Link-Arc's Mushroom Brick Pyramid was part of the “More than Human Adventure” component of UABB2022, which went by the titled Urban Cosmologies. The New York-based architects responded to the theme with an installation exploring “the intersection between living organisms and architecture.” As the name of the piece indicates, the “living” is addressed through the use of bricks made from mycelium — the root structure of mushrooms — while “architecture” takes the form of a pyramid that is inverted from the norm, with the wide base at the top, near the ceiling, and the tip at the bottom, just above a pool set into the floor of the former industrial building. The choice of material recalls other temporary installations, such as Hy-Fi by David Benjamin's The Living at MoMA PS1 in 2014 and MycoTree at the Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism in 2017.

Take a visual tour through the Mushroom Brick Pyramid:

The installation sits within GDH City•Jinpi Fang, the former Kingway Brewery, located in Shenzhen's Luohu District. (Photo: Yu Bai)
The space it occupies is indoor/outdoor, amenable for the bricks to absorb moisture from the air and allow rainwater to filter through the installation down to the pool. (Photo: Yu Bai)
“This installation explores relationships between architecture and an ecosystem that is mostly unknown,” per the architects, who were aiming “to dissolve boundary and create a symbiosis, a collaboration between both realms.” (Drawing: Studio Link-Arc)
With the bricks degrading in the soil forming a closed loop, as diagramed here, the architects boast that “there is no burden to the environment.” (Drawing: Studio Link-Arc)
The hundreds of biodegradable bricks were suspended in modules of three, with many of the bricks grown with fresh mushrooms. (Drawing: Studio Link-Arc)
As the inversion of a familiar form suspended from above, the installation recalls the “parametric” models of Antoni Gaudí from more than a century ago. (Photo: Yu Bai)
In the words of the architects: “The inverted-pyramid shape flips traditional views on its head, illustrating the existence of second natures, double functionality, duplicate purposes, man-made and nature, present and future, and finally growth and decay.” (Photo: Yu Bai)
Seen up close, a brick is very much aligned with the architects' assertion that they are “a man-made device that grows and evolves as a living organism.” (Photo: Yu Bai)
Manufacturing deactivates the mycelium so the team added mushrooms to some of the bricks. (Drawing: Studio Link-Arc)
“Using agricultural waste straw, bagasse, wheat bran as substrate,” the architects wrote, “mycelium grows naturally and in time solidifies.” (Image: Studio Link-Arc)
The creative design and manufacturing process  also required some creative means of installation, with contractors working from above to position the brick modules. (Image: Studio Link-Arc)
Project: Inverted Architecture
Location: Shenzhen, China
Architect: Studio Link-Arc
  • Chief Architect: Yichen Lu
  • Project Manager: Shiyu Guo, Luis Ausin, Simeng Qin, Zhenwei Zhong
  • Project Team: Letty Lau, Zida Liu, Lingyun Yang, Zeynep Ugur, Rui Zhou, Chenhao Ma, Xiaoxuan Hu, Yu Lai, Shawlon Hsieh
Biological Technology Support: Bio-Loop
Sponsor: Shenzhen Municipal People's Government
Undertaker: Shenzhen Planning and Natural Resources Bureau, Shenzhen Luohu District People's Government
Executed by: Guangdong Yuehai Land Group Co., Ltd
Supported by: Shenzhen Biennale Public Art Foundation, Shenzhen Urban Planning and Design Institute
Special Fund Support: Shenzhen Cultural Industry Development Special Fund
Chief Curators: Lu Andong, Wang Zigeng, Chen Bokang

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