New Yorkers know local architects HWKN for Il Laboratorio del Gelato, where the only thing better than the space is the ice cream, but the firm got their first big break working with Diller Scofidio + Renfro on the High Line. Now they've won MoMA PS1's coveted Young Architects Program, a competition to design the pavilion for the museum's outdoor summertime programming series, Warm-Up. HWKN impressed the jury with their proposal "Wendy," a 5,000-square-foot, star-shaped structure made of stretched nylon coated with a revolutionary new "smog-eating paint." Yeah, it's a paint that removes smog from the air in its immediate environment.
Just how does this wonder-paint work? According to HWKN, Wendy is covered with "nylon fabric treated with a ground breaking titania nanoparticle spray to neutralize airborne pollutants." From the time Wendy is built in late June to the time it's taken down at the end of the summer, principals Matthias Hollwich and Marc Kushner and project architect Robert May estimate that their outdoor pavilion will remove the smog equivalent to taking 260 cars off the road.
"It's pro-active, it's not apologetic," said Pedro Gadanho, the curator of contemporary architecture at MoMA. "It begins to point to a new way to think about sustainability."
The jury was especially won over by the juxtaposition of common construction materials like the scaffolding and the high-tech paint. Furthermore, all the materials can be taken down and reused after the summer programming is over.