The material plastic is one that makes an abundant appearance throughout our everyday lives. Plastic has broken into and made significant impacts in almost every industry throughout the world, including fashion, furniture, aeronautics, electronics, medicine, and automotive. However, the architectural industry has only had the benefit of polyform plastics for no more than two decades. Since the invention of the cellulose, the first plastic, by John Wesley Hyatt in 1863, the incorporation into design applications is still considered a young innovation. So with the new emergence of polymers into designs, the question is, how do they make an impact?
After being fascinated with the Plastic House presented during today’s lecture, I wanted to explore other precedents and architectural applications. Polymers are mostly applied to interiors to create space divisions. One example of plastics creating space inside buildings is at the 216 Alabama house in Lawrence, Kansas. A polycarbonate material creates the walls to enclose a bathroom off the kitchen area. Since the material has a milky opacity, the user is surrounded by complete privacy in the room. The unique aspect of this is the exposure of the structural components inside the wall. The light gauge aluminum frame and plumbing system are shown as “ghosts” through the opaque plastic wall. Personally, I think these polycarbonate applications are extremely unique and would love to experience them myself.
Plastics do not only show up in spatial creations, but also can be implemented into ground planes. An example of this is a terrazzo floor, in which white epoxy is combined with recycled glass to give the floor a creative pattern. They also take a sustainable outlook by using recycled materials to enhance the material. Although polymers are applied in spatial creations, such as the 216 Alabama house and Plastic House, there still is the question about whether or not they will be used more as an exterior façade material. So it seems apparent that plastics are in fact around us in the design world, but are they finally getting the attention they deserve?