Mind & Matter


Plastic Living

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Skylight shower in Plastic House, Architecture Republic. Courtesy of Archinect.


The tabula rasa approach still reigns supreme in the architectural academy. Practicing architects also hold “green field” projects on unadulterated sites in high esteem. However, the increasing value of existing resources points to a future in which architects must seek innovative adaptive reuse opportunities.

Architecture Republic’s recently completed Plastic House is a compelling example of such a strategy. The Dublin-based firm gutted an existing Georgian terrace house, opening up a two-story volume of space. Then they inserted an inhabitable armature composed of light steel framing clad in opalescent polycarbonate panels. The glowing armature—called a "cruciform object"—houses services such as kitchen, bathrooms, and stairs—tracing a nimble path within the existing double-height volume. Within the stark white-painted shell, the new insertion differentiates itself not by color, but by the subtle material interactions with light.




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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.