Stunning Environmental Sculpture At MoMa Clears The Air




Meet Wendy  She’s Blue, Cool, and Responsible Too. For years now architects have been working to create environmentally friendly buildings that reduce the carbon footprint of the residents, but young architect duo HWKN have created Wendy, a structure that actively cleans the air.  Opening this week at MoMA’s PS1 blue, funky Wendy is making quite an impression on the landscape and the architectural world.

HWKN comprises Matthias Hollwich and Marc Kushner and is based in New York.  They entered the Young Architects Program at MoMA and won the 13th edition.  Similar to the Serpentine Gallery’s annual pavilion project, the Young Architects Program winners create a temporary structure in the courtyard of MoMA PS1 for the public to enjoy. 

A banner acting as a name-tag proclaims: “I am Wendy.  I clean the air, I keep you cool, and I am recyclable too.”  Architects HWKN explain, “Wendy does not play the typical architecture game of ecological apology – instead she is pro-active.”  During her short stay at PS1 this summer (from 7 July to 8 September) it is estimated that the air cleaned from pollutants will be the equivalent of taking 260 cars off the road.  This incredible feat is realized by treating the nylon fabric with titania nanoparticle spray.  This material was first used  as a nanofilm in fashion but has since been used architects and city planners to keep buildings and sidewalks clear from pollutants.  By applying titania nanoparticle in a spray formula, the fabric will collect and neutralize airborne pollutants.

Wendy is meant to be enjoyed from the inside and out and likewise protrudes beyond the confines of the courtyard piquing the interest of those passing by.  The vibrant blue shade of the fabric contrasts with the brick and stone of the urban environment.  From the spikes, mist, water, and music will fill the surrounding areas keeping visitors cool in the summer heat.  Using bright yellow fans on the interior, condensation collected by the fabrics is sprayed downwards creating the misting effect.  Wendy will form the backdrop for MoMA PS1’s summer concert series as well as intriguing visitors young and old

Wendy is built on a scaffolding construction measuring a volume of 70’ x 70’ x 45’.  The overall cost of the project is relatively inexpensive and the materials can all be recycled after Wendy’s stay at PS1.  After making such a statement, Wendy will disappear without a trace at the end of the summer, though hopefully having inspired others to continue developing environmentally responsible building projects.

In addition to Wendy herself, an exhibition about the five finalists for the Young Architects Program will be on display at MoMA.  The other finalists include AEDSI Ammar Eloueini Digit-all Studio, Cameron Wu, Ibanez Kim Studio, and Urban Lab.  Curated by Barry Bergdoll, MoMA Philip Johnson Chief Curator, and Whitney May, Department Assistant of the Department of Architecture and Design, the exhibition will demonstrate the young architectural talent found within the United States.  Words: Emily Sack © ArtLyst 2012.


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