Islands in the Gyre from Michael Barton

barton floating island image

Globe and Mail
TreeHugger readers will know of the Pacific Gyre, the "island of garbage twice the size of Texas" slowly spinning in the ocean. Like everything in life, it can be seen as a serious problem, or an opportunity. Michael Barton, in his graduating thesis at the University of British Columbia, proposes to gather it together for "the construction of a synthetic land commodity." He won an award of Excellence from in the Annual Canadian Architect Awards for "The Enthalpy of Empty Space."
barton section image

All subsequent images scanned from Canadian Architect

Canadian Architect describes it:

The site provides an almost stable oasis of calm in an otherwise raging ocean. This provides conditions that can accommodate building. Using raw materials gathered from the site, a self-contained building operation is undertaken. The construction of the building is only the beginning of the project. The manufactured land attracts life to its structures and below the surface of the water, both human and wild. The interdependent nature of the eco-systems above and below suspends the island in tension as both systems seek to flourish and grow.

The project thus explores three core values of the architect: Honour the impulse to build; recycle and reuse materials; and remediate and regenerate natural systems.

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Lisa Rochon wrote about it in the Globe and Mail:

Barton was initially at a loss as to how architecture might confront the problem. Support from his thesis adviser, Vancouver architect Patricia Patkau (whose firm won two of the professional prizes among the 2008 Canadian Architect Awards of Excellence), gave Barton the confidence to pursue the issue of plastic in the Pacific. He met with marine biologists, Greenpeace and engineers. "The conventional thinking is that it's just too big to deal with," says Barton. "But that shouldn't stop us from speculating. I'm alarmed by how little speculative work there is. We have a responsibility as architects to create more ambitious visions."

Wanting to stimulate discussion, Barton created a series of highly cinematic renderings of seductive tropical islands constructed entirely of recovered plastic. The advantage is that human beings could live on top of the plastic they were responsible for initially consuming. How perfect is that!

barton pacific gyre image

This is a wonderfully inspiring idea. TreeHuggers were intrigued by Reishee Sowa's island built of pop bottles a few years ago;
how much better to use a resource that is just sitting out there causing problems, gathering it together and building places to live, with enough raw materials build anything (that can be made from plastic, anyways) in a lovely tropical climate. Where do I sign?

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Lisa Rochon notes that it is different for architecture students today:

They're Photoshop babies accustomed to pixilated, digitalized, high-definition images colliding on computer screens and to the visual frenzy of major cities. Since they were little, their eyes have feasted on the world's river of information; from Sesame Street to The O.C. to global crises only a click of the mouse away on their computer screens.

More TreeHugger in the Gyre:
Following Algalita's "Junk" to the North Pacific Gyre
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch: "Out of Sight, Out of Mind"
Moby Duck

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