At this year’s edition of Dutch Design Week, the People’s Pavilion took centre stage. Made from 100% borrowed materials, this pavilion designed by bureau SLA & Overtreders W takes a radical new perspective on the idea of the circular economy.
All building components - including its concrete and wooden beams, glazing and roof - were borrowed for 9 days and then returned to their owners at the end of DDW. The exception comes with the vibrantly coloured tiles that clad the exterior. Made from plastic household waste materials collected by Eindhoven residents, the tiles are intended to be distributed among those residents at the end of DDW.
The idea of recycling plastic tiles as facade cladding was developed by Overtreders W and tested on a small scale. But for the People’s Pavilion, this concept had to be transformed into effective production. The design team thus partnered with Govaerts Recycling, who have extensive knowledge and expertise in the area of plastic production. An old injection moulding machine was modified and fit out with an appropriate mould, ensuring that 10,000 kg of recycled plastic could be efficiently transformed into 9,500 recyclable plastic tiles to cover the 380 m² of facade.
The team aim to put these tiles on the market next year, making plastic waste a pleasing building cladding alternative.
More from the Consultant:
What is Govaplast's role in the People's Pavilion story? The idea of recycling plastic tiles as facade cladding was developed by Overtreders W and tested on a small scale. But for the People's Pavilion, this concept had to be transformed into effective production. A steel mould had to be made and the machine had to be adjusted to the specific raw material, dimensions, product requirements… And all of this as efficiently as possible and in a very short period of time. It goes without saying that there was a need for extensive knowledge and expertise in the area of plastic production. And so a first meeting with Govaerts Recycling was quickly organised.
Why the cooperation between Govaerts, DDW, OW and SLA? The reason why Govaerts Recycling was selected as partner in this challenging project was in the first place their knowledge of the matter and their production capacity. For more than 20 years, Govaerts has been producing various plastic sections for multiple applications and sectors: so no lack of experience and possibilities. But jumping into an innovative process with a tight deadline requires more than knowledge. A flexible attitude and above all a lot of determination revealed Govaerts to be the ideal partner.
The cooperation agreement Overtreders W and Sla contacted Govaerts in May 2017: “Was there interest in collaborating on a project for the Dutch Design Week? This quickly became clear during a visit to the factory, where it all happens. The interest was there, but there was especially an indispensable click that is needed when things need to move efficiently and quickly. Consideration first had to be given to what needed to be done, what the possibilities were, where the obstacles were located. And a cooperation agreement was quickly concluded:
Govaerts defined the raw material specifications. DDF is supplying 10 tonnes of sorted, cleaned and ground raw material and as well as the design for the tile. Govaerts is making a mould based on the design and providing the machine and ultimately the end product: 9,500 tiles.
And then it became concrete After the paperwork, people had to roll up their sleeves and get to work! The sketch was refined, the mould was designed and produced. Meanwhile, the machine was adapted. After the mould was built, tests were conducted for an entire day with different colours and various raw material combinations. The test day resembled a workshop with experimenting artists, technicians and tech experts working together to obtain an attractive, quality end result. The colour palette and composition were determined. Now the machine has to do its job under the watchful eye of the masters. This machine too was an object of recycling: an old injection moulding machine that was modified and fitted with the appropriate mould. It will ensure that 10,000 kg of recycled plastic are transformed into 9,500 recyclable plastic tiles to cover 380 m² of facade.
The obstacles and how they are being overcome Very tight timing: the right people with the right abilities in the right place and a little bit of luck. We're keeping our fingers crossed.
New machine: because the injection moulding machine was not previously used for the production of tiles, it posed a risk. But Govaerts was able to adapt and configure it with relative ease.
New mould: like the machine, this too was a story of trial and error.
New raw material flow: However, without properly recycled raw material, this beautiful story could never be written. The amount of coloured raw materials collected in Eindhoven was below the needed 10 tonnes, so raw materials collected elsewhere were used.
The concept For the concept and design of the People's Pavilion for the DDW, the choice was made for a striking facade in tiles made of recycled plastic. The idea of a building consisting of borrowed materials also contributed to the choice of the facade material: the Eindhoven population would collect its plastic waste, and tiles for the People's Pavilion would be made from this waste. After the Design Week, the building will be torn down and the intact parts returned to the lender. The plastic tiles, for example, will be returned to their lender, the waste collecting residents of Eindhoven.
Who makes the tile? In early May 2017, there was a first discussion between the designers of Overtreders W and the company Govaerts Recycling. The parties met and considered which cooperation opportunities were available, as the path from design to final production, from idea to realisation, can be tortuous. But clearly it clicked between the two companies and after a company visit in Alken, Belgium, both partners concluded a cooperation agreement. The agreement provides for the production of a custom designed mould, determination of the raw material to be supplied, the specific configuration of the production machine and, of course, the deadline. In fact, the partnership proceeded in typical Eindhoven fashion, in combination with Belgian soberness. We know our goal, we look for the right partners, and together we take on the challenge.
Plastic tile: A challenge? Definitely! The People's Pavilion tile is made of household plastic waste. This is a very different story than a new plastic product. The composition of the raw material largely determines the properties of the material and this composition is never 100% the same. Thus it's a question of monitoring the situation closely. But manufacturer Govaerts Recycling has the know-how to handle the issue. In addition, the designers committed themselves to working with waste from Eindhoven households. The production of the 9,500 tiles requires about 10,000 kg of raw material. There is a risk that insufficient waste will be collected. To deal with this possible problem, plan B was drawn up. In the case of insufficient raw material at the start of production, a sorting and recycling company will be called upon that has already received the necessary specifications in order to create a buffer stock. The third challenge is the technical aspect of the actual production. Govaerts is a leader in the production of longer and thicker sections such as decking boards, but the tiles require a different procedure: injection moulding must be used on a smaller scale. A separate machine is being converted for this purpose and a new mould must be designed and cast. The short delivery deadline leaves little room for experimentation.
Who and what is Govaerts? Since 1995, Govaerts Recycling NV, located in Belgian Limburg, has been producing various types of sections, boards, poles and beams from recycled plastics from both industrial and domestic waste. It concerns PE (polyethylene) and PP (polypropylene) that is sorted, washed, ground and melted to become a new product by means of intrusion moulding.