Old plastic is filling up the Shing Mu River in Hong Kong. But soon this old plastic will be turned into new benches that look sleek and modern. The benches are part of a design created by HIR design studio for Sha Tin District’s Town Hall.

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Two blue-gray benches with a round, orange piece of furniture between them.

Tasked with redesigning the interiors of the town hall, HIR added new public seating by reusing old plastic. It’s an innovative recycling process that results in benches that look chic, sleek and totally modern.

A curving bench in a blue-gray color.

Highly polluted from plastic waste, the Shing Mu River presents a major problem to be addressed. Plastic waste has troubled the area for years. In 2018, 40,000 plastic items found their way into the ocean after floating down the Shing Mu River. HIR recycled plastic from the river, processed it and turned it into amazing new seating for the town hall. The river inspired every aspect of the design. Made to evoke the town’s connection to the nearby river, the benches represent a relationship with nature. You can almost see the curving lines of the river in the fluid design.

A room with wood walls and two blue-gray benches with a round, orange piece of furniture between them.

In creating the benches, HIR spent two months collecting plastic from the river. Residents helped with the project, organizing the plastic waste into seven different categories. All the collected plastic was cleaned, processed and turned into pellets. The plastic was then taken to a local furniture factory. Here, the pellets were molded in a large oven.

A person working on a bench in a studio setting.

Two steel molds created 500 plastic module pieces. These pieces were fixed with steel tie rods that went into 12 benches. Each one of the benches is a little bit different, but all follow the same style.

A person working on a bench in a studio setting.

The project is a testament to what recycling can do. Each bench is made up of pieces of plastic that otherwise would have ended up floating in the ocean, polluting the water and making life more difficult for sea creatures. HIR’s work is a win for sustainable design and a look into a world where waste can transform into something new and fresh.

+ HIR Studio

Via ArchDaily

Images via HIR Studio