Group Project Cyclo: Architectures of Waste

The work PLATE in white letters inside a red square.
  • Class

    Cyclo: Architectures of Waste: Strauch Option Studio, fall 2017
  • Instructor

    Caroline O'Donnell
    Dirk Hebel, Strauch Visiting Critic in Sustainable Design
    Felix Heisel, Strauch Visiting Critic in Sustainable Design
    Teaching Associate Dillon Pranger

Human beings have traditionally built enclosures from close-to-hand materials — tents from animal hides in the desert, log cabins in forests, stone huts in rocky areas, and so on. But the advent of our disposable culture in the mid-20th century has brought with it a new set of 'local' materials, in the form of waste. While this production of waste has generated a new potential resource, our consumption-driven society has inversely resulted in global raw material crises that are imminent. In the very near future, recycling and reuse will no longer be a choice made by those concerned about the environment, but a necessity for all. At the current rate of mining, it is estimated that approximately 19 years of copper, 10 years of tin, and 10 years of zinc remain in the earth's crust. Such looming deadlines mean that a paradigm shift in domestic behavior, manufacturing, construction, and design is inevitable.

The fall 2017 studio Cyclo: Architectures of Waste rethinks the traditional role of the architect and challenges the discipline to address urgent material issues within the larger design process. Beyond the simple application of recycled and waste materials in architecture — an admirable endeavor but one which does not engage the urgent reality of a circular economy, and simply postpones the material's eventual abandon in a landfill — these proposals aim to transform flawed material objects into closed-loop resources.

Plate is a semi-annual publication series conceived on the one hand as a demonstration of a Cornell pedagogy and on the other as giving presence to the multiple voices who develop those pedagogies into a collection of unique manifestations and atmospheres.