NUBE-PET (Jose Arturo Revilla Perez)
Architecture Association School of Architecture
Capitalizing on horizontal communication systems and social networks, NUBE PET seeks to generate ecological and urban awareness. Through the construction of a proto-architectural structure, this initiative seeks new environmental aesthetic horizons for the contemporary phenomena of urban recycling. A parametric PET (Polyethylene terephthalate) mantle transforms the space, changing its temperature, luminosity, colour, texture and dimension; inviting the visitors’ senses to form an active part of the space and its metabolism.
NUBE_PET is a cultural project that proposes the re-incorporation of waste material into structures with architectural potential. It is a collective initiative aiming to generate alternative forms of public spaces. Capitalizing on horizontal communication systems and social networks, NUBE PET seeks to generate ecological and urban awareness. Through the construction of a proto-architectural structure, this initiative seeks new environmental aesthetic horizons for the contemporary phenomena of urban recycling. A parametric PET (Polyethylene terephthalate) mantle transforms the space, changing its temperature, luminosity, colour, texture and dimension; inviting the visitors’ senses to form an active part of the space and its metabolism.2. The Brief: Summarize the problem you set out to solve. What was the context for the project, and what was the challenge posed to you?
From the very beginning what shocked us was the amount of plastic bottles circulating on a daily basis and how corporations of the calibre of The Coca-Cola Company considerably contribute to the constitution of our physical environment. For several years Mexico has been one of the countries that consumes more bottled fizzy drinks in the world. Because of the amount of material involved and the scale of the distribution operation, the consumption of these products has transformed the dynamics of economic, ecological and cultural forms in Mexican cities. There is a corner of Mexico without some sort P.E.T bottles or plastic packaging!
To try to assimilate this phenomenon we try to establish a parallel with another object with similar properties present in all Mexican cities, the brick. After investigating a little about the production of these objects we obtained figures of an apocalyptic landscape. According to the National Institute of Statistics and Geography INEGI, is estimated that Mexico produced around 4.21 billion bricks in 2012, a figure that contrasts with the 36 billion P.E.T plastic bottles sold in in the country by the main Coca-Cola distributor, FEMSA. In other words, the production of plastic bottles in Mexico is more than 8.55 times larger than our traditional brick. Where is this material? Where does it go? Is this part of the city? These are some of the immediate questions from which the installation took off.3. The Intent: What point of view did you bring to the project, and were there additional criteria that you added to the brief?
More than a project, NUBE PET has been an exploration process around contemporary urban dynamics, social space and material processes that has eventually produce an installation in the central patio at the main building of the Autonomous University of Aguascalientes (UAA) in central Mexico.
The main idea of the installation was to hang 30,000 plastic bottles of 600ml _this is the same number of brick needed to build a middle class house in Mexico_ in the main patio of the most important cultural building of the city of Aguascalientes. We wanted to impress the visitors by showing this ubiquitous material in an unexpected condition, inside an unpredicted site with and in this way generate awareness of the relations between the social tissue and the physicality of the environment. Embracing the city as a metabolic system, as a complex ecology, our goal was to produce a space using the idea of process as an ethos. By collecting, cleaning, designing, fabricating or by simply using and recycling the bottles, most of the 300 visitors became co-authors the event. NUBE PET became a new material format and a new way of accessing “public spaces” under an ambiguous regime.4. The Process: Describe the rigor that informed your project. (Research, ethnography, subject matter experts, materials exploration, technology, iteration, testing, etc., as applicable.) What stakeholder interests did you consider? (Audience, business, organization, labor, manufacturing, distribution, etc., as applicable)
The project does not have a specific origin; we could not pin down a specific day in which we started working. NUEB - PET came about as a result of common interests, it is somehow one of the findings that happened in a series of exchanges during a two or three years period between architects, teachers and students at the Architectural Association (AA), Aguascalientes Mexico and people at Zaha Hadid Architects. In the same way we can say that the intervention has not die with the installation made in Mexico, this has only become the excuse for a larger agenda that involves material dynamics and their relation to the making of the city.
In this way, we started exploring one of the cheapest materials found in our environment today, P.E.T. (Polyethylene Terephthalate). We saw a great opportunity on being able to obtain a beautiful, light and malleable material in large quantities that opened the possibility of a full-scale speculation/intervention. We build some preliminary mock-ups and did some testing on the basic module, a 12 by 12 bottles square with the capacity to bend and produce modular ruled surfaces. After proving the capacities of the module, in September 2011 a small group of people started collecting 600ml P.E.T. bottles in the city of Aguascalientes, Mexico. Taking full advantage of the social electronic networks we promote and spread a recollection that started on a family scale and step-by-step grew into institutions, schools, private investors and local entrepreneurs. Facebook became a powerful tool not only for the 2 years recollection process, but when recruiting most of the 60 volunteers that took part in the fabrication, cleaning and montage.
When 80% of the material was collected we set our self the task to find a strategic place to expose the piece, we had interviews with different local cultural and political authorities finding considerable difficulties at first. Our proposal was simple; we had the material, the idea, the labour and few local and international publications, all we where asking for was a site with a strategic public space struggle to hang NUBE PET. It was until the 28 of April 2012 when we won the ALERTA competition for emerging artist that the whole manufacturing process took off. As a result the project started to get media coverage and doors started to open. Together with a full publicity campaign to obtain the site, we started the fabrication of the modules and the configuration of a symposium with architects from Mexico, Colombia, Spain and UK. This event resulted particularly interesting to the local University and they agreed to facilitate the main patio of their most important building as long as we celebrated the conferences at the school of architecture.
Two weeks were used for the montage of the full structure. We used part of the resources given by ALERTA to install 20, 12 meters long ¼¨ steel cables from which the modules will hang and latter adjusted to obtain the final curvature.5. The Value: How does your project earn its keep in the world? What is its value? What is its impact? (Social, educational, economic, paradigm-shifting, sustainable, environmental, cultural, gladdening, etc.)
The restricted and rudimentary structure of property nested in our traditional concept of “public space” leaves no room for the tones of greys that describe and articulate a wide catalogue of contemporary social assemblages. In the other hand, “social space”, a concept borrowed form the social sciences, stands as a field of forces, a systems of relations and alliances constantly infused by power struggles inside an endless state of flux, allowing us to step back and have a more eloquent terminology for innovative and inclusive spatial formats for communal gathering inside the tension between the urban event and the electronic social network paradigm.
NUBE PET is a structure build as-in-on-for-to social space. Outside the delimitation of any category, this intervention weaves, in a spatial and material process, a range of social spheres and uses design as a tool to generate innovative connections among social players. Organized around the figure of the collective, the strategy uses the possibilities enhance by the interconnectivity shared today in social agents to coordinate resources, material, information and labour. Universities, Museums, Political Bodies , independent artist, private companies, architects and others, they all share an organizational system that depends, in each case differently, on a hybrid communication structure that interconnects them through unexpected pads creating a new and uncertain sense of the public. Although the power of each participant might be limited and the formats of collaboration of mixed and undetermined nature, it is evident that new ways of contesting space have emerged.
At first the suspended elements hit me, then I realized they were PET bottles and I was fascinated how they achieved such beautiful pieces with these bottles. It seems very important not to lose sight of the issue of the pollution that we generate the planet, I like how they interact with the space and environment that is achieved with these clouds of PET. Really good project. – Mauricio Lara
This project highlights of many initiatives to re-utilize PET bottles. A common material, but with a very creative solution and well made. It seems walking under those panels. Congratulations on this initiative and for the project. – Sebastián Lara
Good idea resolved in a smart, simple and pretty way. It would be good to promote it as a decorative object for events and parties. – Carla Fernandez
I believe that it perfectly give the message and puts an ordinary object in a form and manner that the visitor wouldn’t expect creating an wow moment. – Andres Mier y Teran