If you find yourself wandering the countryside north of Auckland, do not be alarmed if you encounter a very funky rubber tree. No, this forty foot folly is not a giant Wookiee or a rejected Muppet. Named Belly of the Beast, this tower of tires was built by postgraduate students at Victoria University in Wellington to demonstrate the use of recycled materials in architecture and sculpture.
Although Belly of the Beast’s design finds its inspiration from many sources, including traditional Maori cloaks, furry creatures, or the work of others, designers Declan Burn and Matt Ritani claim that “no single reference is attributed with a primacy of meaning. It is all of these things – it is none of these things.”
Belly of the Beast was fabricated off-site in multiple pieces, then joined together at its current location on Brick Bay Sculpture Trail near Matakana. The interior of the tower is constructed from recycled metal and wood, while the distinctive exterior was built using tire treads layered around the central structure. Burn and Ritani infused Belly of the Beast with the sustainability ethos of ‘materials in transit,’ which holds that all materials must have had a prior use and will have additional uses after the project is dismantled.
When Belly of the Beast is disassembled in a year, the tires will be shredded, then donated to local equestrian clubs for use as flooring in dressage arenas. “Rubber chip is more comfortable for horses. Rather than simply recycling we increase value, contributing to community good,” say Burn and Ritani.
Belly of the Beast’s interior is painted a vibrant red to contrast its shaggy black coat and contains a seating area, which includes chairs made from tire rims. The interior space comes complete with a barbeque and the tower’s peak is open to allow smoke to escape. An indoor ladder allows visitors to climb towards a lookout window, where they are treated to fantastic views of the surrounding countryside.
Images via Brick Bay Sculpture Trail