Less than 10 percent of the billions of tons of plastic ever produced has been recycled, with much of it winding up in the Earth's oceans where the plastic disrupts ecosystems and releases toxic chemicals. In response, researchers led by Neri Oxman of MIT’s Mediated Matter Group, which focuses on “nature-inspired design and design-inspired nature,” have devised a new materials that they say, in somewhat biblical terms, go “from water to water.” The substances include a structure made of biocomposite skins derived from cellulose, chitosan, and pectin, some of the most abundant biopolymers on earth, in everything from tree branches to insect exoskeletons to common fruits to human bones. The researchers have put these new composites to the test in a 16-foot-tall pavilion named Aguahoja I (literally, water-sheet in Spanish), the culmination of six years of intense research into material science and robotic fabrication. Panels, comprising a top layer of chitosan and cellulose with a bottom layer of apple pectin and chitosan, were 3D-printed in various compositions to affect their rigidity and strength, color and color-changing abilities, transparency, and responses to heat and humidity, as well as their load-bearing abilities. This means, according to the lab, that the materials are functionally "programmable." Because of this variability, a variety of facade or load-bearing structural components can be generated from the same process, and the size is limited only by that of the printer. This “water-based digital fabrication” is intended to create a situation in which form, function, and fabrication are more closely linked, working in a way that mimics how the natural world designs itself; the result is “a continuous construction modeled after human skin—with regions that serve as structure, window, and environmental filter,” said the lab. In a display at the MIT Media Lab, the pavilion was shown along with a library of materials with various colors, shades, and structural properties, and an array of custom hardware, software, and wetware. The pavilion has been acquired by SFMOMA for its permanent collection, and a second version, Aguahoja II, will appear in the Cooper Hewitt’s design triennial, themed “Nature,” which opens next month. When structures made of these materials have run their course, the materials can be dissolved in water, returning natural materials to the environment with relatively little harm or disruption, much like any organic object in a naturally occurring ecosystem that decays and returns to be reused by the life that relies on it. For more on the latest in AEC technology and for information about the upcoming TECH+ conference, visit techplusexpo.com/nyc/.
Posts tagged with "Recycling":
In an effort to encourage locals to reduce landfill waste and pollution, Washington, D.C. has relaunched a beloved program that wraps recycling trucks in brightly-colored art. The “Designed to Recycle” initiative, put on by the Department of Public Works, selected 15 local artists this year to design graphic artwork for the trucks this summer. Last week, the city released the first two of the newly-wrapped trucks and will continue to launch them in weekly pairs through September 6. The program, which started in 2015, also plans to rewrap and “refresh” five of the trucks that received the treatment during the inaugural year. The project is funded by the Commission on the Arts and Humanities and is part of Mayor Muriel Bowser’s commitment to expanding the creative economy in the city. “Through the Design to Recycle Project, we are able to support and showcase the talent of our local artists, further enhance the visibility of the city’s recycling efforts, and add to the creative landscape of the District in all eight wards,” said Angie Gates, interim director for the commission, in a statement. As one of the country’s leaders in sustainability and efforts to address climate change, D.C. has worked tirelessly to advance its zero waste goals and introduce green building laws into its current construction market. Here are the 15 selected designs along with the artists: Waste Not by Nicole Hamam; Recycle Now by Michael Marshall Design; Urban Jungle by Jackie Coleman; Nurturing Nature by Kofi Tyus; Untitled by Katherine Tzu-Lan Mann; Untitled by Dean Kessman; Recycled Fish by Carly Rounds; Evolution with an “R” by Gordon Steven Spencer Davis II; Mapping by Santiago Flores-Charneco; Inform, Reduce, Recycle by Minsoo Kang & Andre Sanchez-Montoya; Untitled by Anne Masters; Pop District by Sarah, James & Parvina Gilliam; Recycled Flowers by John Gann; Nuestra Terra I recycle DC by Nicolas F. Shi; and Fair Chard Value by Michael Crossett.
Architecture studio Austin+Mergold has teamed up with artist Maria Park and students from Cornell University to produce Oculi, this year's City of Dreams Pavilion on Governors Island in New York City. The design was the winner of the annual City of Dreams competition aimed at promoting sustainability in architecture and design. It's on view now through October 31. The installation features a field of elevated oculi made from 40-year-old metal grain bins procured from a farm in Delphos, Ohio. The oculi frame unobstructed views of the sky while tracking the path of the sun with a range of shadow patterns. The interior walls of the bins are painted in shades of blue that correspond to the changing colors of the sky throughout the day. “Artifacts of the American agro-industrial age, these bins have been repurposed in ways not unlike how medieval inhabitants of Rome reoccupied the remains of the Ancient Empire,” explained the studio in a statement. They compare the grain bin with “spolia,” a term for ancient stone that has been repurposed in new construction. The City of Dreams Pavilion is now a gathering place for visitors to enjoy performances and lectures. Following the de-installation, the bins will be reused as materials for an experimental housing cluster in Central New York. The competition was organized by FIGMENT, the Emerging New York Architects Committee (ENYA) of the American Institute of Architects New York Chapter (AIANY), and the Structural Engineers Association of New York (SEAoNY). For Oculi, the architects and artist collaborated with consulting engineers Chris Earls and Scott Hughes.
The popular Swedish furniture producer IKEA has said it will release a new line made almost entirely of recycled materials. For example, the OGDER kitchen chairs (designed in collaboration with Stockholm-based designers From Us With Love) are made of a combination of reclaimed wood and recycled plastic bottles; the chair will come in a number of different sizes and colors. The KUNGSBACKA kitchen island, seen below, is similarly made from 99% recycled materials. These materials are partly sourced from the IKEA factory in China. The idea for the line was actually sparked when IKEA realized their factory had a virtual graveyard of damaged, unused products that could be recycled. Look for the its release next February, 2017.
When New York City's massive, visible-from-space Fresh Kills landfill closed in 2001, the city began trucking its garbage—around 14 million tons annually—to other states. Former Mayor Bloomberg tried to soften this unsustainable solution with a 2006 plan to transport waste by train and barge instead of trucks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 192,000 tons per year. Now, with Mayor de Blasio's ambitious "zero waste" plan for landfills by 2030, the need for revamped waste management systems is pressing. Could old-school pneumatic tubes help the City meet its goal? Pneumatic tubes seem like a futuristic waste disposal technology, but they are widely employed in Europe and parts of the U.S., including New York's Roosevelt Island and Disney World. Indeed, some parts of New York used to get mail delivered by pneumatic tubes. How could this system work on a large scale today? ClosedLoops, an infrastructure planning and development firm, has been researching this question for five years. The team hopes to create a pneumatic tube system, the High Line Corridor Network, underneath the High Line park on Manhattan's Far West Side. Now in the pre-development phase, the team chose the High Line to test their prototype because its height eliminates the need to tunnel beneath the streets. Waste would be sucked from the park and nearby buildings and deposited in a central terminal for overland carting to landfills outside of New York. As of December 2015, NYS Energy Research and Development Authority and NYS Department of Transportation (DOT) are on board, and the DSNY (plus the NYC DOT) have offered to support the grant proposal for the project. If trash tubes were installed citywide, it would be possible to track who produces the most (and least) waste, and mete out fee-for-service accordingly. The project will take a few more years to come fully to fruition. In the meantime, there are plenty of places to see pneumatic tubes in action, including your local drive-thru: https://www.flickr.com/photos/benfrantzdale/5022238452
More than 800 people flocked to Chicago's premier recycled building materials clearing house, the Rebuilding Exchange, last week in search of a piece of Chicago history. The nonprofit was auctioning off chunks of the Chicago Transit Authority's (CTA) Madison-Wabash CTA El Station, which will be replaced next year. Buyers included an ice cream parlor, a theater company, an art studio, and various individuals intrigued by the defunct station's benches, signs, railing sections, pressed tin sheets, and vintage doors. “We did not auction off the facades—those are being stored here for up to two years until a history museum can take them,” said Caitlin Grey, outreach coordinator for the Rebuilding Exchange. “Almost everything sold the night of except for some screens, decking, joists and doors. Over the weekend almost everything else sold. We still have a door, decking and joists.” Chicago recycles as much as two-thirds of its construction and demolition debris, but other municipal recycling programs are lagging. As for what will become of the old station's downtown location, renderings show a clean white plane sheltered by rows of knife-like brise-soleils. The so-called “Gateway to Millennium Park” will replace both the Randolph-Wabash and Madison-Wabash stations, and is designed by Chicago-based exp, formerly known as Teng + Associates.
On a man-made island in East Amsterdam, this isn't your traditional campsite. The so-called Urban Campsite Amsterdam is an open-air exhibition that features 14 publicly accessible installations that can be booked for an evening under the stars. From trampoline roofs and hemispherical windows, each unique shelter is created by a wide array of designers, architects, and artists. Pictured at top is an installation from social design project collective Treehouse Fest or Boomhuttenfest entitled Solid Family. This bone-shaped icosahedron, created by graphic designer Tobias Berg and furniture designer Sander Borsje, is made from recycled materials and is deceptive with its seemingly unaccommodating shape. Surprisingly, it houses 2 queen-sized beds and can lodge up to four people at a time. From a four-person geo-structure to a two-person trampoline. Designer Vince Vijsma' coined Trampotent for his trampoline/tent hybrid that allows for an entertaining fun house and an eclectic gathering space. Exploring the "flux of garbage and its recycling and utilization in architecture and design," Refunc created IBC Shrinkwrap, housing a queen sized bed for two protected by, of course, shrinkwrap. Refunc believes that "creative reuse" is a better alternative to recycling and that there is potential in discarded materials to transform into something extraordinary. The concept behind the exhibit is to allow the public to interact with contemporary art and showcase its ability to transform a barren stretch of underused land into a common ground for tourists and locals. Urban Campsite also eliminates the barrier between a work of art and its audience through the participatory aspect of the campsite, thereby transcending the viewer-art piece relationship. So park the camper for the summer and crash in a spaceship for the night. The installations are available to book through August 31st.
Broken umbrellas and bicycle wheels get a second life in these two, completely recyclable pavilions on Governors Island
Two whimsical summer pavilions on New York City's Governors Island have been slated for reuse elsewhere, themselves built from recycled and repurposed materials. The Billion Oyster Pavilion by BanG Studio and the Organic Growth Pavilion by Izaskun Chinchilla Architects both tied as winners in the annual City of Dreams design competition, and the jury, torn between the two, greenlighted both pavilions, launching a dedicated Kickstarter campaign to crowdfund their construction. The pavilions will soon reincarnate as decorative chandeliers, sun canopies, and oyster beds. Conceptualized for this very purpose, the Billion Oyster Pavilion is made from nylon rope, steel rebars, clamps, and custom cast-concrete blocks, and will form part of a Governors Island high school’s years-long initiative to restore oyster beds in the New York Harbor. Serving as a natural water filter, oyster beds would help vastly improve water quality. Meanwhile, the Organic Growth Pavilion also flags garbage as an epidemic while aiming to recontextualize waste as a resource. Fabricated from broken umbrellas, bicycle wheels, and old stools, it forms a series of plant-like structures in a collective canopy measuring 1,223 square feet. The canopy will be broken up and distributed to sites across the city for use as decorative chandeliers or smaller shade structures. “The jury saw that the Billion Oyster Pavilion and Organic Growth were both incredibly interesting designs that interpret the competition brief in completely different ways,” said David Koren, executive producer of Figment, a non-profit organization that organizes the City of Dreams competition with the American Institute of Architects New York Chapter’s Emerging Architects Committee. “Perhaps we can create some really exciting dialogue around temporary architecture and sustainability.”
Dutch ecopreneur Joost Bakker designs zero-waste homes, repurposes carcasses for his restaurant and delivers flowers
Vertical gardens fully obscure the home of eco garden entrepreneur Joost Bakker like a mossy overgrowth. The eco entrepreneur, a high school dropout and florist by trade, also designs zero-waste restaurants, composting toilets, freestanding vertical green walls, and houses built from straw for a laundry list of clients. His 6,500 square foot home in Monbulk, Australia, occupies a six-acre former cherry orchard, and is covered with a steel mesh normally used to reinforce concrete. This metal scaffolding holds 11,000 terra cotta pots of strawberries and shields the home from harsh hilltop sunlight. Beneath the mesh screen, the inner walls are insulated with straw bales behind a facade of corrugated, galvanized iron. “Our house stays beautifully warm in winter and cool in summer,” Bakker, who has parlayed the pet peeve of waste-producing industry into a career, told Gardenista. "Most people don't realize that straw is the world's most abundant waste product with over 1 billion farmers producing it. It's basically the stalk that's left over after the heads of rice, wheat, barley, and other grains are harvested." The Netherlands native harvests rainwater to wash dishes, mills his own oats, and folds others’ organic rejects into his own compost pile. The DIY home itself exemplifies the “reduce, reuse, recycle” ethos, built on a recycled concrete slab foundation and sporting walls sided with 150-year-old wood planks once used in the Woolloomooloo wharves in Sydney. Repurposed waste materials prevail indoors, too, with industrial-felt curtains shielding the windows, training-wire ceiling lamps, and unpolished plywood floors. On the driveway sits a spherical sculpture by the enterprising Bakker: a white ball of yarn bedecked with white butterflies. After turning restaurateur, carcasses have become the serial entrepreneur’s latest preoccupation. Last July Bakker opened Brothl, a high-end soup canteen where otherwise discarded though nevertheless reusable beef bones, seafood shells and chicken frames form the base of Bakker’s pungent, nutrient-dense soups. Bakker’s businesses enjoy the same cross-fertilization and managerial economies of a conglomerate: He trades the flowers he grows in his garden for bones to make soup at his restaurant, using the leftovers to feed his garden, which in turn supplies his restaurant.
Archtober Building of the Day #30 Sunset Park Material Recovery Facility 472 2nd Avenue, 29th Street Pier, Brooklyn Selldorf Architects Eadaoin Quinn, the education and administrative coordinator at the SIMS Municipal Recycling Facility presented a classroom full of Archtober enthusiasts with a detailed and informative presentation of the automated process of material sorting and recovery that is recycling. Quinn told us about the machinery of sorting, starting with the “liberator shredder,” which opens the large garbage bags that recyclables arrive in by truck or barge. Each step of the almost entirely automated process has a purpose-built system of conveyor belts and sorting machines that transform bags of trash into re-sellable bales of like material. The sorting processes themselves are interesting: the Ballistic Separator is comprised of rotating planes that push flat plastic bags up an inclined plane while, at the same time, glass is broken and sent downward to another conveyor. The Eddy Current separator can distinguish between ferrous and non-ferrous metals. Optical sorters can “see” what kind of plastic is passing by on the belt, and signal a puffer to blow the lighter material out of the line onto another conveyor. Today was cleaning day, so we did not get to see all of these machines in action. But we did see 400 tons of trash waiting to make its way into the process. Selldorf Architects received an AIANY 2014 Merit Award in Architecture for the structure that houses the piles of trash and the machines that sort and bale them. The Design Awards jury stated: “Extraordinary project. Not many people are capable of recognizing how construction to cover garbage can be nice.” Alas, none of the building’s architects attended the tour. Too bad, because it was a spectacular day out there on the Gowanus waterfront. There was a good sized crowd, and a couple of really smart kids asking intelligent questions.
Cynthia Phifer Kracauer, AIA, is the Managing Director of the Center for Architecture and the festival director for Archtober: Architecture and Design Month NYC. She was previously a partner at Butler Rogers Baskett, and from 1989-2005 at Swanke Hayden Connell. After graduating from Princeton (AB 1975, M.Arch 1979) she worked for Philip Johnson, held faculty appointments at the University of Virginia, NJIT, and her alma mater. firstname.lastname@example.org
Mission: Small Business, Chase bank's new program to promote new small businesses allows residents to vote for their local small businesses to be considered for a hefty $250,000 grant. Among the countless entries for the program, Brooklyn-based dlandstudio's proposal for a new plastics recycling center at the Brooklyn Navy Yard has already received 200 votes. Founded by Susannah Drake in 2005, dlandstudio has long been concerned with sustainability and the environment including a proposal for a Sponge Park along the Gowanus Canal with a permeable landscape to capture stormwater runoff and other industrial waste discharged by flooded pipes in the low-lying neighborhood. This green infrastructure alternative to costly pipes was approved by New York City's Design Commission in January. The new recycling center will accept local plastic waste to be repurposed for new green infrastructure systems similar to the Sponge Park that could be be implemented in Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx. The proposition is expected to enhance manufacturing, create new jobs, and manage significant waste streams. If appointed, proceeds from the Mission: Small Business grant will be used for research and execution of the project.
Of the 85 proposals submitted to a playground design competition hosted by Go Play!, few were as innovative as AnneMarie van Splunter's RubberTree, which landed an honorable mention. The Dutch designer's imaginative reuse of old car and motorcycle tires recalls the simplicity of children playing around a tree, inspired, in fact, by the rubber tree and its heavily exposed root system. Van Splunter sought to create a place where refugee children on the border of Burma and Thailand can be "rooted in solid ground." Proposals were asked to focus on elements including buildability, innovation, and overall design. RubberTree's proposed locally-sourced structural-bamboo armature was hoped to increase affordability and provide for local construction. An unnamed engineer purports that the entire structure could be built without the use of metal, allowing the tree to be built with local labor. However, the material life-spans of bamboo, rope, and tires in a tropical climate could lead to breakdown and potential safety hazards over time. While more expensive, steel would be a more ideal material in terms of safety. Safety issues aside, the innovative design demonstrates a novel method of reusing old tires and an inspiring reclamation of material. While the project won't be built as part of the competition, Van Splunter has reportedly received interest from her native Netherlands to build RubberTree, where a cooler climate and a steel structure could make the playground a reality. [Via Treehugger]