Emerging Plastic

El B Auditorium

Today most people are aware of the extensive use of plastic in our daily lives. It is almost impossible to go about your day without coming into contact with some form of plastic. One of the better-represented plastics is Polycarbonate, or more commonly known as thermoplastic, which was introduced into the market in 1958 by Bayer Mobay and General Electric. The properties of Polycarbonate such as high impact-resistant, low scratch-resistant, high transparency (with better light transmission then most glass), heat resistant, and an excellent conductor, make it a widely used material over a broad spectrum of applications.
One application that is becoming more and more popular for plastics is the innovate use as building facades. One recent project that put Polycarbonate in the spotlight was the new El B Auditorium and Congress Hall in Cartagena, Spain by Jose Selgas and Lucia Cano. The architects used Polycarbonate on the interior of the building while using another type of plastic, methacrylate, on the exterior facades; both mounted to a stainless steel structure. The effects and overall aesthetic quality that was achieved from using Polycarbonate was the application of color paired with transparency and translucency. Throughout the building the aesthetic properties, such as color and translucency, of the material change according to the program of the specific space. The architects did not choose polycarbonate and other plastics as their main material solely for their aesthetic purposes, but also for their economic and sustainably qualities. The plastic averaged out to be about $20 a square foot with the property of being 99 percent recyclable. The one drawback that plastic facades have is its short life span, that has a maximum of 20 years.
It is no surprise that plastic is becoming a popular application for facades in the design and architecture industry, considering plastic infiltrates our daily lives on so many levels.


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