Mind & Matter


Glass Tree

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Beer Bottle Tree, Shanghai, China.


This holiday season, the debate concerning which kind of Christmas tree is the most sustainable has been rekindled. Now there is an unexpected alternative to the common choice between a real wood or plastic tree—yet it is certainly no less festive. A giant tree comprising 1,000 beer bottles has been constructed along Shanghai’s prominent commercial street of Nanging Donglu. The tree, which consists of Heineken bottles, serves as a giant public lighting display as well as an advertisement to the thirsty. Although the bottles in this installation are full, the tree suggests an interesting potential for reused containers. It also serves as an intriguing example of a simple product being amassed to create a monumental sculpture.



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About the Blogger

Blaine Brownell

thumbnail image Minnesota-based architect and author Blaine Brownell, AIA, is a self-defined materials researcher and sustainable building adviser. His "Product of the Week" emails and three volumes of Transmaterial (2006, 2008, 2010) provide designers with a steady flow of inspiration—a 21st-century Grammar of Ornament. Blaine has practiced architecture in Japan and the U.S. and has been published in more than 40 design, business, and science publications. The recipient of a Fulbright fellowship for 2006–07, he researched contemporary Japanese material innovations at the Tokyo University of Science. He currently teaches architecture and co-directs the M.S. in Sustainable Design program at the University of Minnesota. His book Matter in the Floating World was published by Princeton Architectural Press in 2011.