The plastic bag is widely accepted and distributed as a free, single-use disposable item, and despite its ubiquity, is leaving a hefty footprint on our environment. Only 3% of plastic bags are recycled, and most end up in our landfills. Since plastic does not biodegrade, it remains in our environment for thousands of years. Plastic particles latch onto toxins which when ingested by animals, enter our food stream. Straight from our trash to our bodies.

To bring awareness to this issue, the City of Dreams Pavilion alludes to the literal mountains of plastic waste New York City’s residents generate each day. NYC’s Department of Sanitation hauls over 4 million metric tons of trash per year, nearly 3% of which is comprised of plastic bags. In a city where 85% of the waste stream goes unrecycled, the mountains pile up. NYC has a long way to go in the quest towards reducing waste, and plastic bags are one piece of the puzzle.

The Pavilion’s undulating blanket of hanging plastic bags appears cavelike and ethereal from within. From afar it evokes a mountainous field of peaks, alluding to the literal mountains of garbage New York City’s residents generate each day. The blanket of bags is punctured by large openings, letting through rays of sunshine and illuminating the supports, showcasing an active composting system. Colorful light filters through, creating a playful and dynamic space. The space is both serious and whimsical, critical and beautiful, a thought provoking juxtaposition in form and meaning.

Mountain seeks to drive discourse on our current waste habits by introducing a surreal landscape in which to reflect and connect with others. Using waste to create dynamic space brings the discourse into the mainstream, inspiring residents to call for sustainable change in their cities. The theme of Mountain is ultimately one of hope.

Location
Governor’s Island, NY

Status
Design Completed Spring 2014

Project Team
Matt Stoner
Debby Yeh
Lukas LaLiberte