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Competition: Tulum Art School, Mexico

An open international contest has been launched for a new art school harnessing recycled plastic in coastal Tulum, Mexico (Deadline: 3 July)

The competition – organised by ARCHSTORMING – seeks innovative proposals for a new €50,000 school building using both conventional construction materials and additional components made from recycled plastics where appropriate.

Proposals must integrate rainwater collection and solar panels and should create an environment which educates students about the scale of environmental pollution caused by plastic and potential solutions for a cleaner future such as recycling. The overall winner will receive €10,000 and see their scheme constructed.

Contest site: Tulum Art School, Mexico

Contest site: Tulum Art School, Mexico

Contest site: Tulum Art School, Mexico

According to the brief: ‘In this competition, participants will have the chance to design a school that will focus on art, wellness and environment. Three subjects that unfortunately are most of the time forgotten in traditional schools.

‘We will also have the chance to do something unique. We will discuss about the current problem of the plastic pollution in Mexico. And not only that, but also the main material of the school will be precisely that one: recycled plastic.’

The competition focuses on a large plot featuring an existing studio and two trees in the historic town of Tulum. The ancient coastal settlement is home to ruined fifteenth century Mayan city which is Mexico’s third most visited archaeological site.

Contest site: Tulum Art School, Mexico

Contest site: Tulum Art School, Mexico

Contest site: Tulum Art School, Mexico

Attracting more than 2.2 million visitors every year, Tulum is also a popular recreational and leisure destination close to the resort town of Cancún and the surrounding Riviera Maya region. The winning scheme will be constructed on a plot between Calle 2 Pte and Calle 4 Ote.

The competition is backed by the NGOs Los Amigos de la Esquina and ‘MOM I’M FINE’ which was founded by Jonathan Kubben as an ethical fashion label to help promote awareness about the environmental impact we are having on our planet.

Proposals may be one or two storeys and should feature a classroom, multi-purpose space, sink, restrooms, storage facilities, foot shower, office and projection area.

The competition language is English and submissions should include a single A1-sized display board featuring images along with a 400-word project description. Participating multidisciplinary teams may feature up to four members.

The overall winner, to be announced on 12 July, will receive €10,000 and see their concept delivered. A second prize of €5,000, third prize of €3,000, fourth prize of €1,500 and fifth prize of €500 will also be awarded along with 10 honourable mentions.

How to apply

Deadline

The deadline for submissions is 3 July

Fee

€60.50-to-€181.50 depending on number of entries

Contact details

Email: info@archstormig.com

View the competition website for more information

People’s Pavilion case study: Q&A with Peter van Assche

The architect at bureau SLA discusses lessons learned designing a temporary pavilion with Overtreders W harnessing recycled plastic for Eindhoven, The Netherlands

Peter van Assche

Peter van Assche

Peter van Assche

How did your project deliver a landmark pavilion harnessing recycled plastic for The Netherlands?

The brief that the Dutch Design Foundation gave us was to design their main pavilion for the Dutch Design Week to be an outstanding example for sustainable architecture. That seemed a paradox: erecting a building for just nine days is hard to become an icon of sustainable building. By deciding that we would borrow all materials and return them unharmed to their rightful owners looked like a perfect representation for a circular economy. The facade of plastic tiles was made by collecting plastic garbage from inhabitants of the city. A special waste station was put up to provide for proper collection and sorting by colour of the plastic waste. After the event all contributors could collect their plastic by taking home one or more tiles.

People’s Pavilion by bureau SLA and Overtreders W

People’s Pavilion by bureau SLA and Overtreders W

Source: Image by Filip Dujardin

People’s Pavilion by bureau SLA and Overtreders W

Which architectural, material, visual and other methods did you harness in your design?

Since the concept required that no material was to be glued, cut or drilled we were forced to look for new building construction methods. We started designing with straps, bands and recycled tie wraps. To test our assumptions we made – together with structural engineers from Arup – many little models using wood and rubber bands. This worked quite well. After deciding on the construction method we put all of the (mostly) standard size pieces of borrowed materials into a 3D model that also worked as a base for the images.

People’s Pavilion by bureau SLA and Overtreders W

People’s Pavilion by bureau SLA and Overtreders W

Source: Image by Filip Dujardin

People’s Pavilion by bureau SLA and Overtreders W

What advice would you have to contest participants on designing a new art school in Mexico from recycled plastic?

One of the main problems that we encountered is that plastic, being made out of oil, loves fire. Since a school is not a temporary structure but a lasting building, protection against fire becomes a serious issue. Normally this is done by the addition of halogens, which is a toxic chemical. We have (after the event) put a lot of effort in the design of a tile that is non-toxic and fire resistant. We would advise contestants to take precautions against fire into serious consideration. Also, using plastic waste is a great way of raising awareness for our global environmental challenges. It would be great to incorporate a community process that turns waste into building material, as we did with our Pretty Plastic Plant.

People’s Pavilion by bureau SLA and Overtreders W

People’s Pavilion by bureau SLA and Overtreders W

Source: Image by Filip Dujardin

People’s Pavilion by bureau SLA and Overtreders W