UMA Proposes Plastic Bottle Facade


Swedish architecture practice Ulf Mejergren Architects recently participated in an abstract project titled “New Wave,” where the company used recycled plastic bottles to create a facade on the exterior of a Tulum, Mexico-based art school.

According to World Architecture, Mexico is responsible for roughly 500,000 tons of plastic waste each year. The project’s design aims to inspire the community as to what can be achieved through recycling, while also serving as a visual reminder of the enivronmental impact of garbage.

Creating the Facade

Designed to mimic the appearance of the ocean’s waves, the facade is structured through the use of rebar, creating an elegant backdrop that provides shelter and, in some places, is also used for seating and tables.

Once erected in a concrete trench like a tall fence, plastic bottles with holes drilled into the bottoms are pierced onto the rebar, which is attached to the wall or a slab in mid-air. To ensure stability of the facade, bottles closer to the ground were filled with cement or sand. This method was repeated multiple times, followed by the bending of the rebar to produce the shape of the waves.

For finishing, the bottles were painted in a gradient of blue-cyan-white.

"With this building we want to set a precedent on what can be done with recycled plastic bottles, an action that hopefully could inspire other people and communities," UMA stated.

In taking plastic and recycling it through architecture, the literal form both becomes aesthetically pleasing and a constant reminder of how plastic is damaging the marine environment.

Other Eco-Friendly Facades

Recycling another type of plastic—plastic chairs—in 2017, Czech architecture studio Chybik+Kristof covered the exterior of a repurposed car showroom in 900 used plastic chairs. Now ironically a furniture company (MY DVA Group), the exterior of the building reveals a tangible connection to the products available inside the Brno, Czechoslovakia, gallery.

The following year, PaintSquare Daily News reported on architecture and design firm ecoLogicStudio’s (London) “urban curtain” that was developed to store CO2. Although not a “recycled” project, the eco-friendly prototype named Photo.Synth.Etica was designed to hang off the side of the facade of buildings, was developed in collaboration with European Union innovation company Climate-KIC, and is currently on display at the Printworks Building in Dublin.

Last year, researchers based out of EPFL's Solar Energy and Building Physics Laboratory (Lausanne, Switzerland) developed a building facade reported to harvest more power than the unit requires. The facade, dubbed “SolAce,” uses photovoltaic modules and solar thermal collectors, which are coated with a nano-glazing, to contribute to the unit’s positive energy balance.


Tagged categories: Aesthetics; Asia Pacific; Building design; Building envelope; Building facades; Color + Design; Color + Design; Design; Design - Commercial; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Latin America; North America; Recycled building materials; Z-Continents

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