Recreational space the size of Hawaii’s main island will be made from harvested recycled plastic.
The obvious solution to plastic waste clogging up our oceans is to scale back how much we use, but what to do with the mountain of waste that already exists? One solution comes from WHIM Architecture in the Netherlands, who want to create a Recycled Island made from marine litter in the North Pacific Gyre. Not only could the island be used as a recreational space, and respond to rising sea levels, but it’s success could also spark a host of new sustainable and flood-proof habitats.
Recycled Island would be a way to repurpose the non-biodegradable plastic, and prevent it from reaching the North Sea. The architects plan to build the prototype from hollow plastic building blocks, which would also be designed to allow unrestricted plant growth. “The realization of a prototype will physically prove our theory and will give us the opportunity to test the strength of the recycled plastics and will stimulate the further development of the project,” explains WHIM on their website.
Eventually, the designers want to build an island roughly the same size as the main island of Hawaii. Apart from creating new land, WHIM hopes that the use of plastic as a new building material will also give it new economic value. Assuming this kind of shift in thinking can happen before the plastic dissolves into harmful microscopic particles, there could be a surge in people collecting plastic for profit.
As for homes made from plastic, the architects have some grand ambitions:
The typical components of the family home: shared space, private space, garden, and service spaces have new constraints imposed by their new littoral contexts, and so the organization of the components themselves is rethought. The recycled plastic creates the possibility of translucent materiality and more fluid connections between spaces.
Even though the scale of plastic pollution is hard for most people to fathom, and the only real solution to cut back on how much we use, stopgap measures such as the Recycled Island could prove useful in dealing with the staggering amount of plastic waste that is already in existence.