Architectural competitions platform Archstorming recently presented the winners of its “Tulum Plastic School” competition that sought proposals for a school built of plastic for the NGO’s MOM I’M FINE Project and Los Amigos de la Esquina in Tulum, Mexico. From 230 submissions, an international jury selected three winning projects that draw attention to the problem of plastic waste in Mexico and found imaginative ways to reuse common plastic objects.

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First prize was awarded to Daniel Garcia and William Smith from Harvard University. The duo used the international plastic pallet as the building block for their proposed school. Instead of melting down plastic and reforming the material, the designers took advantage of the stability of pallets to create the school’s exterior walls and its very steep roof. The transparent, recyclable and corrugated plastic facade not only allows light into the school, but it also protects the school from the elements and can glow like a beacon when illuminated at night.

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rendering of colorful school building

Malaysian designer David Nee Zhi Kang was awarded second place for his proposal of a school scaled and designed for children. The multifunctional school could also be opened up for community use. Rather than use processed plastic materials, the conceptual building is constructed from common plastic waste materials, such as recycled plastic bottles, and assembled with simple tools without the need of heavy machinery. The vision is for a building that can inspire the residents of Tulum to adopt similar recycling and building practices.

rendering of school building made from wood and plastic

In third place, Argentinian designers Iván Elías Barczuk, Matías Raúl Falero, Agustín Flamig and Adrián Eduardo Mendez proposed a modular design to reduce waste and for quick assembly with non-specialized labor. Each modular panel would be built from recycled, shredded-plastic liners and reconstituted wood. To further reduce the environmental footprint, the school can be equipped with vertical gardens, a rainwater collection system and photovoltaic panels.

“The result of this contest shows that there are new, very attractive ways of designing a school using recycled plastic and that it is possible to introduce this material into architecture,” Archstorming said.

+ Tulum Plastic School

Images via Archstorming