It may look like the perfect vacation getaway for say, Oscar the Grouch, but the first trash-built hotel is attracting some upper-crust, non-muppet clientele. Constructed on the banks of the Tiber in Rome, just across the river from Vatican City, the temporary hotel was designed to highlight the growing problems of litter that collects on Europe's beaches--12 tons of which make up the building's walls. Unlike the inorganic waste used to built it, the hotel will be open for guests for a few days, but according to its designer, the trash hotel is a sign of the times. "We are in the trash time," says artist HA Schult. "We produce trash and we will be trash."
The unusual accommodation, officially called the Corona Save the Beach Hotel, features three rooms, two baths, and an assortment of trash--all of which was collected on beaches in Europe. It may seem like a mere spectacle to Rome's residents and curious tourists, but to its designer, the hotel was built to show people the grim reality of ocean pollution which so many would rather ignore.
HA Schult describes the global implications of his project to the AFP:
In the ocean, the trash from all continents meets one another. The trash from Africa meets the trash from Europe, meets the trash from South America. The environmental problem is a global problem. We are living in a planet of garbage.
Despite the ugly truth behind its main construction material, ranging from cans and car parts to socks and soccer balls, the hotel's first patron is anything but hard on the eyes. Danish supermodel Helena Christensen became the hotel's inaugural guest when she stayed the night there on Friday. According to the BBC, Christensen was struck by the discarded items that composed the walls, noting some as being "very personal objects."
"[The objects] make you really wonder what made a human being throw this away on a beach," she said.
Unfortunately for those who might hope for a stay at Rome's trash-built hotel, the building's five day run ends tomorrow. But according to Schult, in an ideal world finding litter enough to build a hotel would be impossible. "We have to change the world," he says, "before the world changes us."
The fact that the Save the Beach Hotel was built in Rome isn't without a bit of irony. When the Classical architects of that city erected the marble columns and stately domes of their now-crumbling Forum, none of them could have imagined that much of today's thoughtlessly discarded waste would rival their great structures in longevity.
And perhaps some thousands of years from now, our most lasting mark on history will not be reflected in the remnants of our loftiest constructions, but rather in all the junk we've left behind.