Are you familiar with the biggest threats to our oceans? This question and the following factuality lead us to the topic of this article, but first and foremost, let us address the issue of the oceans which gives us the context.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) gave a sobering warning followed by a rough estimation of twelve years to limit climate change. The oceans, or 97% of the Earth’s water, are the critical point of this issue. I would hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the human species is responsible for this decrease in our quality of life. Because, yes, we depend on the water on this planet, it sustains all life on Earth, and somehow we did manage to risk it all. Plastic pollution; oil drilling and pipelines; melting ice caps; dying coral reefs; and overfishing; the five critical treats of our oceans.
There are a lot of profit/non-profit, governmental or independent/ private organizations and networks working on this matter, in collaboration with people from different spheres of the sectors of society and its branches.
Parley for the Oceans is an environmental organization and global collaboration network, working on raising awareness precisely about the unprecedented importance of the Oceans, thus operating on explorative avenues for sustainable creating, thinking, and living on our blue planet. Inspired by many, especially by the advocacy and work of Parley for the Oceans, Spark Architects designed The Beach Hut.
The Beach Hut is not yet a project that has seen the light of the day, however, its purpose picked attention since its proposal in 2016, and it won the Experimental Future Project Award at World Architecture Festival, the same year. The purpose of a project such as this is to educate the public of the harmful ways we entertain on an every-day basis or in other words, dumping plastic and other waste material in the waters of our system. In short, to bring awareness to the problem that ocean trash inflicts. In that matter, Spark’s project core is based on the act of using millions of tons of plastic waste from the oceans to build a series of usable architectural pieces along the shoreline of Singapore’s East Coast Park. Inspired by the colourful Victorian beach houses line, stretching from the North Coast of Norfolk, UK to Muizenberg, their Beach Hut are colourful “pine cones” structures, animating the shoreline, thus rendering rental accommodation for the “weekend beach campers”.
HDPE (high-density polyethylene) is a type of plastic, and a large percentage of it is found in the Oceans. 30 million tonnes of HDPE is registered to be produced annually on a world scale, and only a small percentage of it is enough to endanger the water and the life-cycles it supports. It is a non-biodegradable plastic (plastic bottles, yoghurt pots, etc.), takes centuries to decompose, and carries a serious environmental threat and a threat to ocean life. In that matter, it is imperative for the ocean waste to be collected, recycled, and re-used, not just for The Beach Hut, but for potential future projects in other industrial branches and the design of many sustainable products with recycled material as they become.
For the Beach Hut, Spark proposes for the HDPE waste material from the ocean to be recovered, colour-coded, shredded, and the granules which are the result of the shredding to be poured into customized shingle-shaped moulds, type of 3dimensional fish scales, and then used as “a skin” for the structures. “The skin” is to be designed in the same way traditional roof shingles would be aligned. In practicality, HDPE as a polymer possesses flexible properties, enabling a variety of easy recyclable undertakes and produced applications.
The underlying structure of The Beach Hut relies on a precast concrete stem with colourful aggregate due to different types of recycled glass. A cross-laminated timber frame would be the responsible shaping module of the hut, giving the curving shape of it, onto which the recycled HDPE tiles would be mounted. The “scales” of the hut would be laminated with thin-film PV (photo-voltaic) which will help generate sufficient power for the LED lighting of the hut and the interior ceiling fan. Each hut would be accessible through a retractable steel rope ladder and a trap door. The Beach Huts are self-sustainable, with solar-powered battery units, naturally ventilated, and offer a sea view via the vision panel. With their design, the huts provide shelter from wind and rain, offer privacy, enjoyment, and a level of basic “glamping” experience.
The Beach Hut is a promising project, not just for its purpose, but for all potential future projects of a similar kind. The purpose of architectural practice, such as Spark Architects and many more, to innovate, not only for the sake of our profession but with the additional purpose of protecting our livelihood, the livelihood of other species here on Earth and to set new standards for the future. The purpose of a country as Singapore prepared to take the matter seriously, devote resources, time, and caring to its maritime environment, invest in innovative avenues to pursue sustainable solutions to protect the ocean’s ecosystem, and to protect our planet.
We all should follow in their footsteps, in one way or another.