|Taipei International Flora Exposition - the Eco Ark|
During my visit to the Flora Expo last weekend (see previous blog post), one of the major buildings we toured was called the "Eco Ark" - a building designed using PET, aka polyethylene terephthalate, bottles.
|Signage wrapped around a structural column,|
Educational display as you wait in line for the building tour.
|Eco Ark - 1st floor ceiling and 2nd floor wall above.|
|1st floor ceiling, curving up to 2nd floor wall.|
|PET bottle chandelier|
So, without any further research,
here are some initial observations - some pros & cons about this PET building:
- The Eco Ark uses PET in a new way. It showcases many benefits of this recyclable material : the adaptability yet durability of PET.
- The building reused thousands of pounds of plastic, diverting the waste from ending up in a landfill.
- The design of the building was generally pleasing, with attractive curves and back-lighting. This is important, because people will not choose to use recycled materials if they are not also satisfied with the appearance and functionality of the products.
- The Eco Ark was designed to encourage the public to think about new ways of building green. One of many on-going steps in the right direction.
- When the Eco Ark is finished, the plastic bottles could be recycled and repurposed if they want - they are made from 100% recyclable materials.
- The PET bottles were not able to be used in their original forms. The plastic was re-manufactured to create these unique building blocks - requiring more energy and natural resources (unless the process was powered by solar or wind energy..)
- The PET bottles still required glue (lots of it) to help solidify the structure. Most adhesives release harmful VOC's (volatile organic compounds) into the air, decreasing the quality of the air we breath.
- The PET resin was most likely supplemented with additional chemicals to create the cleanest and most durable building blocks.
- The bottles are clear: (Petty as it sounds) Everything shows up on those clear bottles - from a trapped leaf, to a bug corpse - they might require significant maintenance, and water usage to stay clear and pretty. A colored material might actually be more functional, and release less wasted light into the night sky.
- Many people see the end result of the building and may not understand the life cycle impact of the complete materials/resources used to create it - there are still more problems that need solutions, and greener solutions yet to be found.
- The building system worked well as a temporary structure, but would require intensive integral design to accommodate heating, cooling, plumbing, and functional lighting systems, as would be required of a more permanent structure. IE, this is not necessarily the future of our most inhabited buildings...
|Close up of the bottle stacking system - custom bottle shape designed for the Eco Ark building.|
'What is "green"?' is a question that we are perpetually developing new answers for - our many "green" ideas still need us to take a step further, dig deeper, and complete the bigger problem of finding even greener solutions. At the same time, it is always nice to see someone pushing the envelope. In this case, the building envelope.