Recirculated Tidal Concrete
‘Recirculated Tidal Concrete’ is a material-orientated project that is centered on the development of a new concrete-based material that uses recycled plastics as a replacement for traditional coarse aggregate.
The project showcases the materials potential through a showpiece, in the form of a basin unit. The form narrative for the piece is drawn from the deep connection between the Earth’s oceans, land and pollutant plastics. The defining characteristics of the material are that it is lightweight, resistant to cracking and distinctively colorful. These are highlighted in the design through overhanging features, thin wall sections and a flowing colour scheme. Minimalist cues, which dominate design discourses for items made from concrete, are deliberately broken to highlight the materiality around which the project is based.
Recycled HDPE, PP and PET plastics are utilised in ‘Recirculated Tidal Concrete’ in ratios corresponding to the amounts these plastics are found in the domestic waste stream, addressing one of the fundamental issues with waste processing in Australia: that is, the intensive sorting requirements needed to complete the recycling process.
Feasibility investigations into the large-scale use of the material suggest it could divert significant amounts of plastic from landfill if used for non-structural civil constructions, such as footpaths. By using the material to create a provocative, yet grounded, showpiece, the final outcome highlights that the intended use of the material is in the real world, and not solely in a speculative, abstract design realm.
It is hoped that this project will inspire others to continue to develop and use innovative design and engineering solutions to address traditional problematic material lifecycles in order to mitigate their harsh impacts on the world we live in.