There is an ongoing architectural quest to find new and innovative sustainable materials. Some products could appear in the next science fiction film, such as the fungus-grown packaging material by Ecovative. Other materials have been with us for a long time, under guise of other uses. Some products—like the lowly shipping container—have served one function for so long they beg to be reinvented.
Israeli architect firm Yoav Messer Architects won the Ariel Sharon Park Competition in early ,2013 for a unique pedestrian bridge built from the ubiquitous metal boxes, and with progress underway, the proposal could serve as a new model for reusing the discarded pieces of shipping infrastructure.
Serving as the gateway to Ariel Sharon Park in Israel, the 520-foot-long bridge gives this 100 percent recyclable conglomerate waste a new lifeline. Further, the modifications to the containers are done primarily off site to protect the integrity of the environmentally sensitive area.
The bridge seeks to integrate the surrounding scenic beauty for pedestrians and cyclists by including observation decks to view the surrounding nature preserve vistas. Pedestrians can also access the rooftop boardwalk by staircases located near the midpoint of the bridge. To overcome ventilation problems, the team added holes in the container walls that double as lookout points. Three tree-column supports hold the the container structure airborne.
The project challenges when a product is considered “waste.” The demand to divert waste is increasing as landfill space decreases around major cities. If this project is successful, architectural firms may turn to these once discarded containers and ask, “What other needs can they meet?”