Plastic is a tricky material. On one hand I reject it because of the tremendous negative impact it has on the environment and health. The production of plastic requires large amounts of resources and causes much pollution, but even after production is complete the object manufactured is a vessel of toxins. Plastics like to off gas Volatile Organic Compounds, which have been know to cause various ailments to the human respiratory system among other problems and they are persistent in the environment for an incredibly long time. Plastic have the ability to degrade far enough that they are disposed of, but not so far that they will not end up as waste or down-cycled. The research that has been done and is still being done on the harms of plastics has resulted in many regulations in the industry. (US EPA)
Another problem is that plastic can be found virtually everywhere from the very tiniest applications to applications in building materials. Plastic is remarkable in its ability to be extruded, molded, cast, poured into anything for example clothing fibers, packaging of all sorts, and siding for a house. While the toxic tendencies of plastic make me cringe, I still cannot help but be impressed by what people have done with this “any way” material.
This structure is the Oribe Tea House Pavilion by Kengo Kuma. It appears to have lightness – like air – and probably comes relatively close compared to other buildings. It is constructed of corrugated plastic sheets hollowed out to create a seemingly serene space within.
This is the Plastic House of Lodz, Poland designed by Moomoo Architects. It is sleeker that natural, therefore not surprisingly clad in plastic – Thermoplan to be exact – a roofing material.
The Organic Pavilion, designed by Ricardo Giovanetti is clad in panels originally meant for use in gardening – made from recycled plastics. It appears to be so delicate and intricate, but again, its plastic and plastic can be easily shaped to be anything and everything!
Because plastic is enjoyable to experience in the above examples, it is disappointing to think of the harm it may have on us during our experiences. The upside is that work is being done to make recycling more efficient and to make plastics containing less elements with toxicity. It will be up to us as consumers to make intelligent decisions on the types of plastics we will accept for use in our environment.