Private Spaces Now Visible?

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?

Plastic House Interior

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.

216 Alabama House in Lawrence, Kansas

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?


One comment

  1. Although I think this idea of a semi-transparent plastic house to be innovative, sleek, and interesting I would have to argue that the material and style of the Plastic house by Architecture Republic in not a pleasant idea for a residential building. It’s one thing if this house was specifically designed to be a bachelor pad or even for a couple without kids but once you cross the line to a family residence I feel like the implications of being without a solid privacy would be daunting. Sure the plastic walls keep out most sight except for the light that passes through them, but even when it is just your shadows privacy that is disturbed that can still be too much. The way I see it, walls are usually not transparent for a reason, I don’t want others in the house to be able to see my shadow when I shower, to watch my outline while I dress, or be able to see that I am having a private disco party in the comfort of my own laundry room. Like I said earlier it’s one thing if it is just you and your significant other but as soon as kids come into the picture, or guests come over for dinner you now have to deal with the awkward paranoia that your guests can see what you are doing within your bathroom. I love the idea of being able to send light from one room to another but again there are certain problems with this in a residential space where you can’t just shut the door when you need darkness.
    I think this plastic building idea is a great one, but I don’t think that in this example it is being used in the right place and would benefit more through experimentation within different areas, maybe at restaurants where privacy isn’t as important but still creates an intimate atmosphere, or perhaps as walls for classrooms so people can see if people are in them before entering. There are many places where this material could be used to its advantage but I think it must be exercised with caution where privacy could be an issue.

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