Over time, an endless spectrum of materials has become available for use within the realm of architecture. However, one material that seems underrepresented is plastic, a versatile and malleable compound that can be used for a wide variety of purposes. In light of the many applications of plastics in architecture, we have compiled a list of 12 projects that utilize plastic: from repurposing plastic bottles to the use of translucent plastic siding, these projects represent just a few of the many ways that plastic can be used as a primary material.
Designed by SelgasCano, the 2015 Serpentine Gallery Pavilion is constructed from a minimal steel frame wrapped in multicolored ETFE—a fluorine-based plastic—in the form of both sheets and webbing. Inspired by the London Underground, the plastic sheets come together in a series of dynamic tunnels between the structure's frame.
The Plastic House in Dublin, Ireland, is constructed from polycarbonate and steel. The lightweight plastic structure is the primary source of light in the evening for the house, as inset fittings cause its translucent surfaces to illuminate in all directions.
3. Plastic Stereotomy; United States / Justin Diles
Plastic Stereotomy explores multiple, latent volumetric tessellations hidden in simple structural configurations through the concept of plasticity, using both cut solid and molded hollow plastics.
4. SodaBIB / The New York Institute of Technology’s School of Architecture
The New York Institute of Technology's School of Architecture created SodaBIB as a way to transform typical plastic bottles into shelter using a new type of shipping pallet technology. Through the roofing system, bottles are compressed and overlapped like Spanish tiles, then aligned and attached to the roof using the shipping pallet, which disassembles into linear SodaBIBs.
For the Planning and Administration Offices of the City of Stockholm, Sweden, U.D. Urban Design AB and SelgasCano designed a double-facade of ETFE to form Drivhus, which is Danish for "greenhouse."
6. Silver Shack; Sangsu, Korea / Chae Pereira Architects
Designing the Silver Shack under a strict budget, Chae Pereira Architects used inexpensive translucent polycarbonate fixed to a regular steel frame.
7. Solar Bytes; Cleveland, Ohio, United States / Brian Peters, Design.Lab.Workshop
With 94 translucent, hexagonal plastic modules, the Solar Bytes temporary pavilion filters sunlight during the day and illuminates at night. After construction and use, these plastic modules can be deconstructed and reused for other purposes.
L House is the first house whose elevation is made completely from a plastic insulating material—Thermopian, which is typically only used for roofing purposes.
The Cola-Bow Installation is a public art piece made from more than 17,000 recycled plastic bottles braided together to resemble the swings of the Coca-Cola logo, in a statement against pollution.
Designed for a summer fundraiser, the Floating Dining Room is a temporary semi-enclosed structure that floats on over 1,700 plastic bottles, in an effort to bring awareness to the multitude of plastic waste floating in the ocean.
In Moscow, where multi-story buildings with blind end walls and wide passages between them are common, za bor architects created the Parasite Office, a three-floor volume with an accessible rooftop settled between two buildings.
Focusing on the exploration of the notion of edges and intersections, Zig Zag House employs a bottle-green polycarbonate skin wall, which casts a green glow onto surrounding walls and pavers at night, and acts as a clerestory in the entry gallery.