SOL Grotto by Rael San Fratello Architects
Credit: Matthew Millman SOL Grotto by Rael San Fratello Architects

One of the fascinating aspects of material applications occurs when products are put to use in ways that were never imagined by their original inventors. By looking beyond the conventional sphere of building materials, architects and designers can often find new sources of inspiration for their projects.

One example is a pavilion designed by Rael San Fratello Architects for the University of California at Berkeley garden. Entitled "SOL Grotto," the small shelter features the predominant use of repurposed glass tubes that project from both sides of its envelope. The tubes were discarded by renewable power company Solyndra, who left behind some 24 million of the cylinders after they declared bankruptcy last year. One company's waste is now another's treasure, however: by arraying nearly 1,400 glass tubes in an expansive matrix, the architects were able to create a significant visual impact on a minimal budget—while also paying homage to the Solyndra legacy.

SOL Grotto will be on display as part of the "Natural Discourse" show at the UC Berkeley garden until January 20, 2013.