Beauty of Impermanence Explored through Waste Tyres
Architect Vinu Daniel hates to build and disrupt the existing environment yet when he does build, his structures exist in perfect harmony with nature. In his most recent endeavour he expresses his views on building waste by creating an installation using discarded tyres at the Sharjah Architectural Triennial 2023.
Globally we are headed towards disaster with humongous amounts of waste accumulating daily into our eco-systems, poisoning our land and oceans. Among this, contributing to 2% of the total global waste is one of the most toxic objects: discarded tires. With more than 280 million tires discarded annually and only 30 million of them being retreaded or reused, the remaining 250 million scrap loom like a dangerous eventuality before us.
This scenario presented the perfect backdrop for Vinu Daniel’s build at the Sharjah Architectural Triennial 2023.
“The best way to neutralise this toxic material is to use them as a part of construction. The method of Unstablised sand and Tyre Masonry, can prove to be a new alternative for our building shortage and prove its mettle as a strong and reliable building material once mud plastered,” says Daniel.
This pavilion for the Sharjah Architectural Triennial 2023, curated by Tosin Oshinowo, is envisioned as a passage cut through waste tyres that makes one contemplate on the amount of waste, we humans produce on a daily basis: 6,84,931 tyres. The pavilion is made from 1425 tyres which is the number of tyres discarded globally during the 3 minutes’ walk a visitor makes through the passage. But the pavilion stands, not just as horrifying reminder of our problems but also offering a solution to the doom that haunts us, that these waste materials can also become beautiful habitable spaces.
The entire pavilion is made with tires collected from different waste facilities in Sharjah and packed with the most commonly available material in that region, that is generally deemed unsuitable for construction: desert sand. This modified form of masonry will ensure a thermally insulated cooler space inside, that also showcases the possibility of designing buildings in arid regions like the U.A.E, with materials found in its proximity and don’t need active cooling.
“The idea of the pavilion was to fit in beautifully with the theme of the exhibition: “The Beauty of Impermanence”. From time immemorial men have been fascinated with the impermanence of deserts, entire mounds of sand shifting along with the wind. Similar to how Buddhist monks destroy sand mandalas made painstakingly with days of extensive work as a reminder of the impermanence of art and life, 95% of the pavilion becomes a part of the desert after its use,” says Daniel.
We ask Daniel how challenging it was to convince the curator of the Triennial, considering the complex construction process.
“The curator of the Sharjah Architecture Triennial this year, Architect Tosin Oshinowo, was very supportive of our idea and concept from the beginning. She was able to understand the ideologies and building process of Wallmakers, hence there wasn’t any need of convincing. It was crucial to us to convey the design, as well as its challenges to our curator. Several meetings and presentations later, we had discussed the essence of our pavilion, its resonance with the SAT theme of ‘The Beauty of Impermanence: An Architecture of Adaptability,’ and the possible challenges and obstacles. These discussions allowed us to have a rather seamless execution at the site,” remembers Daniel.
The challenges and constraints while building the installation in the desert environment is recounted in detail by the architect: “It was our first experience building in the climatic context of the Emirates. We had done intensive research and even prototype testing under comparable climatic context to minimise the chances of major issues, particularly focusing on challenges associated with building on and using desert soil. This preparatory work helped a lot while building the pavilion, as we anticipated a few potential issues and were able to adopt design strategies to overcome the challenges. Another obstacle we expected was the unfamiliarity of such a concept for the workers involved in the construction which may slow the process, but thankfully they grasped the idea quite fast and executed the work commendably well.
Daniel touches on the difficulties of sourcing of materials and how the contractors made the process seamless. “Mr. Omar and the SAT foundation, ensured that we have the necessary supplies we need throughout the construction process. Procuring the main materials posed minimal concern, considering the fact that the two major components of the pavilion is desert soil, something easily available in the site context and waste tyres, something that is unfortunately available in abundance.”
Learning lessons from every build for an architect is of immense value and so for Daniel, who explains, “The entire process of designing and building the pavilion taught us so many things. As we proceeded with the construction we realized the potential of the materials we used was beyond what we initially perceived it to be, especially in the particular context. The applications of these could be very beneficial in many aspects, especially considering the environmental factor.”
From structures that sweep across natural landscapes to a theatre that is set amongst a building’s roof, Daniel has never disappointed the architectural and design community with his design splendour. We try to explore this though process:
“Our design approach is highly influenced by the context and also the modern threats to the environment. The site’s features, climate and even historical aspects influence our design. We also try to repurpose the by-products of excessive consumerism and modern lifestyles, typically labelled as ‘waste’ and left to pollute, by integrating these materials into the built structure, ensuring both durability and safety, while minimising environmental impact. This urges us to expand our boundaries and experiment more with every project we undertake.”
Project Name: 3-MINUTE PAVILION
Office Name: WALLMAKERS
Office Website: www.wallmakers.org
Social Media Accounts: @ar.vinudaniel
Contact email: email@example.com
Firm Location: INDIA
Completion Year: 2023
Gross Built Area (m2/ ft2): 925 ft2
Project Location: SHARJAH
Program / Use / Building Function: PAVILION
Lead Architects: VINU DANIEL
Team: OSHIN MARIAM VARUGHESE, PREKSHA SHAH, RAKSHITA KUMBARI, ARYA NAIR
All Images Courtesy Wallmakers
Photo Credits: OSHIN MARIAM VARUGHESE