Hyphae Design Laboratory is a collective design group with members from many disciplines including Architects, Landscape Architects, Ecologists, Engineers, molecular biologist, chemists, artists and open source computer programmers. The firm focuses on finding creative solutions for urban infrastructure challenges. The scope of the projects taken on by the firm varies greatly including private residences, large public spaces and commercial projects. By combining so many disciplines into one firm the point of view of the group is broad. They are willing to tackle urban problems from different disciplines and scales.
Hyphae (pl. noun): The fine, weblike, branching tubes which make up the body (or mycelium) of a multicellular fungus, responsible for symbiotically sharing nutrients between soil and plants.
The team at Hyphae Design Laboratory approaches urban problems not only from a stance of innovation and cooperation between disciplines but also from a place of understanding that high tech is not always the best techniques for a job. In researching the “human design ecosystem” the goal is not to overcomplicate things but rather to simplify and create a graceful answer in response. They see the research based practice as a new breed of firm in the ever evolving and adapting system within the designed world.
The firm has participated in the research field in an event called the “Makeathon” in San Francisco. This event was a weekend long design charrette of sorts which produced possible solutions for cleaning up the urban activities in an area known as 5M- or the neighborhood around the intersection at 5th and Mission in the SoMa district. The idea of Park(ing) day was spanned at this event. Hyphea however sought to end the problem of public urination with an innovate idea to put urinals around the neighborhood that would use grey water and bamboo to biofilter the waste and reduce the odor in this part of the city. The project entitled PPlanter evolved out of the “Makeathon” into a possible solution for an urban contextual problem. It Potentially could aid in bridging the gap between outdoor transient business such as food trucks, beer gardens and parklets and become part of the woven fabric of the city. By participating in such intensive exercises the firm is able to produce new design or ecological ideas rapidly that can be used in other projects or evolved further within the firms work.
One of the areas of the urban ecosystem that they are currently working on from several angles is the idea of water usage in design and urban living. They are tackling this issue from a scientific stand by writing the EBALDC Affordable Water Repot, as well as designing the Tenderloin National Forest Infrastructural Retrofit in San Francisco, Ca. This explores better gathering graywater and stormwater. The use of alley space, which is typically neglected in the current ecosystem, in the Tenderloin National forest is aided by projects by hyphae such as the living wall in the luggage store gallery. The firm not only tackled the logistics of the place but also the aesthetics. This sort of evolution from dark alley to vibrant public space is one of the research goals of the firm. The approach of research through trial is on the of the methods that Hyphae Design Laboratory employees to try and channel the urban evolution.