Beintween.org is a social + spatial network improv(is)ing spaces that build community in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Their mission is to make art do work. Over the past 6 months, they’ve developed an ecological and unprecedented woven geo-textile made from recycled car tires for a proposed linear park named The Artery. Dubbed Matireal, the trail blazing product could help stitch communities together along a former rail corridor.
Beintween.org cites two discoveries that inspired and informed Matireal‘s evolution. Initial research identified the forlorn rail corridor foremost as an infrastructural barricade; census data emphasized the lack of any racial diversity on either side of the track. Visiting this particular corridor revealed all types of illegal dumping – predominantly comprised of discarded tires. Beintween.org removed hundreds from the site and from adjacent alleys.
This curious behavior created a positive relationship with local residents and inspired Beintween to experiment with the inherent material properties of an automobile tire tread. Having failed at multiple manipulations to “iron” out the undulations, Beintween realized it could stand the tread up on its side. Each subsequent tire mirrors the inside or outside of the prior tread; the tires are then fastened about every 12-16 inches where these undulations meet.
This cellular weave is not only structural, but its flexibility allows the path to bend, turn, and accommodate elevation changes. It can collapse and expand like an accordion for simple transport, and the gravel leftover from the railroad can backfill the cells. Its structure prevents erosion and its permeability reduces the need for shoulders. Matireal requires six less feet of habitat loss and allows the edges of the path to feather into the native landscape or extend as a perpendicular access paths to nearby amenities.
After six months of collaboration and prototyping, Beintween’s developed Matireal, an incredibly low-tech solution, transforming this environmental nightmare into a new standard for ecological trails. Beintween’s founder Keith Hayes is currently working with the Department of Natural Resources, the Mayor of Milwaukee, and the City’s Recycling Manager to divert tires, create local jobs, and implement their ‘creational trail.
Beintween recently launched a Kickerstarter campaign to assist in the purchase and modification of a shipping container where tires could be collected and reduced on site for a pilot project in spring 2013. The kickstarter for Matireal can be found here.
Through the ‘matirealization’ of The Artery, Beintween aspires to construct a social, economic, and cultural engine, working hand-in-hand to embrace difference, establish connectivity, and in doing so, address the reality and repercussions of segregation in Milwaukee, ultimately lowering the contrast and diversifying the place they call home.