The Arch

Community hub, Genk, Belguim 2017
Architects: ConstructLab  

Team: Alexander Römer, Sébastien Tripod, Mascha Fehse, Bert De Backer, Wouter Corvers, Colectivo Warehouse, Bastian Braun, Sumiti Fedtke, Miguel ‘Sempre’ Magalhães, Pieterjan Grandry, Julie Guiches, Patrick Hubmann, Elisa Saturno, Pascal Lazarus, Jean-Michaël Taillebois, Maxie Schneider 

Collaborators: Mouton Structural Engineering, ECO oh! Recycling, UGent - Laboratory for Research on Structural Models (LMO), O.S.T. Collective, Johanna Dehio, Polimeer, Hamilton Mestizo, Timo Wuchner, Sascha Henken, René Braun, YA+K, Florine Cruel, Amandine Lamour, Sarah Lidner, Laëtitia Chamekh, Agnès Collaud, Lydia Karagiannaki, Lize Blauw 

Completion: 2017

image credit: Constructlab + OST collective

︎ New European Bauhaus Nominee
On the site of an abandoned coal mine in Genk, Belgium an arch made of recycled plastic forms a gateway to a new terrain. As a kind of catalyst for the rededication of the site, we organized workshops with discussions and experiments around the reuse of plastic waste as building material. The inhabited scaffolding became a collection point for plastic waste such as bottle caps, which were melted down and made into colorful tiles with a drip-painted look. They adorn the façade of the arch, which was inaugurated in 2017. A temporary laboratory was established to live in, design and build bricks from recycled plastic.

The shape of the arch itself is designed to exploit the properties of its material, which has a predominant resistance in compression. Because plastic is lightweight, integrated post tensioning cables provide strength and stiffness against wind loads. Due to high termal expension and contraction of the entire arch compression springs are anchoring the system in a flexible way.  The resulting hybrid construction in the shape of a catenary arch constitutes a resilient structure while being easily assembled and disassembled. The entire brick consists of local, recycled domestic plastic waste. Houndreds of tiles from collected bottelcaps have been “baked” and numbered by the local comunity in collaborative workshops.

Featured in: baunetzDomus and ICSIA Conference 2017