Mobile foundry transforms aluminum cans into new items in Sao Paulo (Video)

Studio Swine
© Studio Swine

In an homage to Sao Paulo, Brazil's informal network of recyclers or catadores, the interdiscipinary duo at London's Studio Swine have created Can City, a collection of metal stools made by this quirky-looking mobile foundry. Powered by waste vegetable oil sourced from local cafes, the on-the-spot foundry roams the streets of Sao Paulo, looking for raw materials to recycle into new furniture.

Can City from Studio Swine on Vimeo.

Seen over at Designboom, the project highlights the fact that in this city of 20 million, over 80 percent of the recycling is actually done on an informal level by the catadores, who pull distinctive, garbage-collecting carts around the city. The designers created this concept in the hopes of expanding the livelihoods of the catadores, explaining that:

The process for the catadores is that they mine the streets for materials to go in the furnace – then cheap and adaptable sand moulds are made using readily available construction sand from local building sites. In producing ‘Can City’ the majority of carbon cost is in the transportation of goods rather than their production.

Studio Swine© Studio Swine

Studio Swine© Studio Swine

Studio Swine© Studio Swine

The design itself is made from everyday, converted items like a hand truck, garden hose piping and what seems to be a beer keg (makes sense as the project was supported by Heineken, and yes, that is a Heineken can in the video). In creating this idea, Studio Swine also aims to bring the manufacture of such items back to a local level, using the materials found right in the streets:

The project explores the possibility of industry returning to our cities, using free metal and free fuel to create an endless range of individually crafted aluminum items, which are adaptable and customizable, with the ability to ‘cast on demand’.

Based on vernacular design, the stools are the first line items to be produced, and the seating is made for the food market that provided the waste materials.

Studio Swine© Studio Swine

It's not the first time Studio Swine has done a project like this; anticipating a day when petroleum-based materials will be scarce, their award-winning Sea Chair concept had fishermen collecting profitable plastic waste in the oceans, and turning them into furniture. Simple but astutely looking forward, these sustainably-minded projects are almost alchemical, yet very grounded in local realities. More over at Studio Swine.

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