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Plastic: The Latest Architecture and News

Open Call: Tomb of Waste

Plastic has a huge contribution in the making of the modern man. It has revolutionized human activity and living because of its versatility as a material. It made space travels possible. It has revolutionized medicine. Daily, it saves millions of people making food resources safe and accessible to the poorest populations of the planet. Modern life is addicted to and dependent on this versatile substance, which is found in everything from cars, planes, computers and equipment to clothes made of polyester and nylon, to the adhesive seal on most teabags.

Since 1950’s, plastic production has almost outpaced that of almost

Winners Announced for a School Made from Recycled Plastic in Mexico

Archstorming, an architectural platform that organizes international competitions, has released the results for the Tulum Plastic School contest. In fact, participants were challenged to design a school made of recycled plastic, tackling the current issue of pollution in Mexico.

Plastic Monument: An Architectural Call for our Planet

YAC - Young Architects Competitions launches “Plastic Monument”, a competition of ideas aiming to create an itinerant architectural installation. It will travel all around the world to raise awareness about the impact of plastic waste on our planet. A cash prize of € 15,000 + realization of the 1st Prize will be awarded to winners selected by a well-renowned jury made of, among the others, Kengo Kuma, Carlo Ratti, Italo Rota, Mandy Barker, Maria Cristina Finucci.

What is ETFE and Why Has it Become Architecture's Favorite Polymer?

Until recently, the architecture world largely viewed plastic polymers as inferior building materials, handy for wipe-clean kitchen surfaces, but not practical in full-scale building applications. But with technological innovations driving material capabilities forward, polymers are now being taken seriously as a legitimate part of the architect’s pallet. One of the most widely-used of these materials is a fluorine-based plastic known as ETFE (Ethylene tetrafluoroethylene). Brought into the public consciousness thanks to its use on the facade of PTW Architects' Water Cube for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, architects are now realizing the film’s capabilities to express a new aesthetic and replace costlier transparent and translucent materials. Its most recent and spectacular public appearance was on the 120-foot telescopic shell of The Shed, designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Rockwell Group in New York City.

© flickr user manusascorner, Licensed under CC BY 2.0 SSE Hydro Arena / Foster + Partners. Image Courtesy of Figueras Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center / HOK. Image © John Linden Watercube National Swimming Centre / PTW Architects. Image © flickr user garrettziegler, Licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 + 9

Zero Waste Lab 3D Prints Street Furniture from Household Plastic Waste 

The New Raw has launched the Zero Waste Lab in Thessaloniki, a research initiative where Greek citizens can upcycle plastic waste into urban furniture. Part of the larger Print Your City project, the project utilizes a robotic arm and recycling facilitates to create custom furniture pieces that close the plastic waste loop. The initiative aims to use flakes from recycled products to redesign public spaces within the cities.

Print Your City. Image © Stefanos Tsakiris Print Your City. Image © Stefanos Tsakiris Print Your City. Image © Stefanos Tsakiris Print Your City. Image © Stefanos Tsakiris + 26

"Plastic Island" Imagines the Possibilities of Reusing Oceanic Waste in Architecture

Courtesy of Emily-Claire Goksøyr
Courtesy of Emily-Claire Goksøyr

With rising sea levels and incessant consumption of plastic, the state of the earth's oceans is rapidly deteriorating. Instead of discarding or burning this plastic, architects Erik Goksøyr and Emily-Claire Goksøyr questioned whether any architectural potential exists in this neglected material. By conducting an extensive material study, the duo designed three prototypes to postulate this theory. 

Though starting out as a humble thesis, this project is being actualized under the organization, Out of Ocean. From the shores of the Koster Islands in Sweden, plastic samples were collected and studied for their various material performance in areas such as color, texture, light, and translucency.

Courtesy of Emily-Claire Goksøyr Courtesy of Emily-Claire Goksøyr Courtesy of Emily-Claire Goksøyr Courtesy of Emily-Claire Goksøyr + 36

Low-Budget Urban Garden Uses Local Materials to Bring Quito's Community Together

The social design from Natura Futura Arquitectura for a greenhouse in the warm subtropical climate of Nayón, Ecuador, the proposal approaches the use of local material resources in the construction of low-budget productive structures for the development of the collective.

The project, materialized with bamboo, wood and greenhouse plastic, is based on the basic geometrical figure of the triangle, proposing sectors with different levels of illumination for different types of farming.

Maqueta. Image Cortesía de Natura Futura Arquitectura Cortesía de Natura Futura Arquitectura Cortesía de Natura Futura Arquitectura Cortesía de Natura Futura Arquitectura + 26

8 Common Materials You May Not Have Realized Are Sustainable

Sustainability. A word that, for many of us, has been driven into our minds from the very start of our careers as architects. We have a responsibility to the planet and future generations to design buildings that are socially conscious—from solar panels to triple-glazed windows, we have tried it all.

Ultimately, whether our designs are sustainable comes down to the early decisions we make for the building, with our choice of materials having a huge effect on the overall carbon footprint. With new technologies come new ways of incorporating abundantly found materials into the skin of the building that could reduce the building's embodied energy and enhance the structure's properties.

In this article, we have compiled a list of 8 familiar materials that you wouldn't initially associate with sustainability but which you might consider for your next design.

Housing Construction in Argentina Uses Recycled PET Bricks

The Fundación EcoInclusión - winner of the first prize in the regional competition Challenge - is an Argentine non-profit organization that was born in 2015, from the hands of a group of young people that promote the construction of a fairer, equitable and sustainable society.

Located in the Alta Gracia city, province of Córdoba, Ecoinclusión works in the reduction of PET bottles waste with the production of bricks made of plastic residues destined to the construction in vulnerable sectors, with the aim of generating environmental and social impact and cultural participation in the communities.

1,500 Semi-Transparent Plastic Baskets Form a Lightweight Facade

Hyunje Joo's design for a façade in South Korea is a proposal that addresses the separation between the interior and exterior with the construction of a flexible, light, and recyclable architectural element.

The project, a surface made up of 1,500 semi-transparent plastic baskets, diffuses the light and the silhouettes, while offering the ability to be reused with different configurations in different places.

This House was Built in 5 Days Using Recycled Plastic Bricks

Construction of house made of recycled plastic bricks.. Image Courtesy of Conceptos Plásticos
Construction of house made of recycled plastic bricks.. Image Courtesy of Conceptos Plásticos

Ten years ago when Colombian Fernando Llanos tried to build his own house in Cundinamarca, he realized that moving the materials from Bogota was going to be very difficult. After mulling it over, he decided to build his house out of plastic, and after a series of trials and errors, he ended up meeting architect Óscar Méndez, who developed his thesis on the same subject, and together they founded the company Conceptos Plásticos (Plastic Concepts) in 2011. 

The innovative local company managed to patent its system of bricks and pillars made of recycled plastic, which is then put together like Lego pieces in a construction system that lets you build houses up to two stories high in five days.

Temporary shelter in Guapi (Colombia) for 42 families displaced by armed conflict.. Image Courtesy of Conceptos Plásticos Temporary shelter in Guapi (Colombia) for 42 families displaced by armed conflict.. Image Courtesy of Conceptos Plásticos Temporary shelter in Guapi (Colombia) for 42 families displaced by armed conflict.. Image Courtesy of Conceptos Plásticos Temporary shelter in Guapi (Colombia) for 42 families displaced by armed conflict.. Image Courtesy of Conceptos Plásticos + 16

From Recycled Plastic Waste to Building Material

Project.DWG and LOOS.FM have unveiled their PET pavilion, a temporary structure in a community park in The Netherlands that focuses on issues of sustainable building, recycling, and waste by rethinking the ways that buildings are developed, built, and used. Specifically, the pavilion is a study of the use of plastic waste as a building material.

Using the elevated framework of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House, the structure consists of two monumental slabs in a steel framework. “From floor to ceiling, double-walled transparent corrugated sheets hold over 40,000 plastic bottles,” with bottle caps attached to bottlenecks supporting the system.

© Project.DWG / Artwork by Martin Oostenrijk © Marco van der Ruit / Artwork by André Boone © Project.DWG © Paul Clason / Artwork by Martin Oostenrijk + 16

Margot Krasojević Architects Unveils Lace-Like 3D Printed Light Made of Recycled Plastic

In somewhat of a departure from its usual parametric, experimental work, Margot Krasojević Architects has created a recycled, 3D printed LED light, in an investigation of the importance of reappropriating plastics. The project—Lace LED—however, aligns with the firm’s exploration of renewable energy and environmental issues within architecture and product design.

Printed with post-consumer plastics like synthetic polymer packaging from takeout food containers and 3D printer off-cuts, Lace LED is a light diffuser with fractal pattern configurations resembling a piece of woven lace.

© Margot Krasojević © Margot Krasojević © Margot Krasojević © Margot Krasojević + 12

16 Materials Every Architect Needs to Know (And Where to Learn About Them)

A building’s materiality is what our bodies make direct contact with; the cold metal handle, the warm wooden wall, and the hard glass window would all create an entirely different atmosphere if they were, say, a hard glass handle, a cold metal wall and a warm wooden window (which with KTH’s new translucent wood, is not as absurd as it might sound). Materiality is of just as much importance as form, function and location—or rather, inseparable from all three.

Here we’ve compiled a selection of 16 materials that should be part of the design vocabulary of all architects, ranging from the very familiar (such as concrete and steel) to materials which may be unknown for some of our readers, as well as links to comprehensive resources to learn more about many of them.

What Exactly is Matti Suuronen's Futuro House?

The Futuro House looks more like an alien spacecraft than a building. Designed by Finnish architect Matti Suuronen in 1968 as a ski chalet, the radical design was subsequently marketed to the public as a small prefabricated home, easily assembled and installed on virtually any topography. Its plastic construction and futurist aesthetic combined to create a product which is identifiable with both the future and the past.

© Gili Merin © Gili Merin © Gili Merin © Gili Merin + 10

AA School of Architecture Designs Adaptable Structural Plastic 3D Printing Method

The AA School of Architecture’s DRL Masters Program has developed a thesis project, entitled Growing Systems, which explores adaptable building systems using methods of robotic fabrication and generative special printing within the context of housing.

Centered on a new method of structural 3D vertical extrusion, the project combines the precision of prefabricated elements with the adaptability of on-site fabrication, in response to the flux and dynamism of cities. The method becomes a system of elasticity that can accommodate site parameters, as well as future adjustments.

Courtesy of The AA School of Architecture Courtesy of The AA School of Architecture Courtesy of The AA School of Architecture Courtesy of The AA School of Architecture + 8

The Inflatable Architecture of Plastique Fantastique

Plastique Fantastique's pneumatic structures were originally conceived in 1999 through necessity: "The fact that we used plastic was just due to the fact that we had no money," explains the firm's founder Marco Canevacci. "So, plastic was just the cheapest material we could imagine, and you can join parts very easily and you can create very simple architectures. By using a hot air blower, those architectures become warm places to stay." By using warm air to inflate the structures, their office became a landscape of heated pods in an otherwise cold space. However, through their continued experiments over almost two decades, Plastique Fantastique's pneumatic interventions have now come to make the case for an ephemeral, temporary, and whimsical architecture. Their work now continues a lineage started by the experimental utopian group Haus-Rucker-Co, whose own pneumatic structures of the 1960s were disposable, free-wheeling creations which both literally and metaphorically played with the boundaries of a world they saw as staid, rigid, and dull.

Last year, Plastique Fantastique was invited to the 180 Creative Camp held by Canal 180 in Abrantes, Portugal, where their giant, inhabitable Strawberry Ice Cream Cone took over a public place to provide a unique and fun spatial experience. To mark this event, Canal 180 produced a short film highlighting some key recent projects by the firm and documenting the construction of their latest work. Watch the video above, and read on to see more images of the installation in Abrantes.

© Miguel Oliveira and Bárbara Moreira © Miguel Oliveira and Bárbara Moreira © Miguel Oliveira and Bárbara Moreira © Miguel Oliveira and Bárbara Moreira + 19

Plastic Architecture: 12 Projects that Highlight the Potential of Polymers

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.