conceptual New York City night outdoors still life
To us, it's just a used bottle. To Chartier-Corbasson, it's the stuff of super skyscrapers. (Simon Abrams/Flickr)

This Skyscraper Grows on Human Waste

French firm unveils plans for recycled structure

conceptual New York City night outdoors still life

A skyscraper made from its tenants’ waste? Sounds potentially horrifying, but the idea is actually beautiful—aesthetically and environmentally.

French architecture firm Chartier-Corbasson unveiled designs Wednesday for an “organic” office building encased in panels of recycled materials. They’re hoping to make it a reality in London. 

The most interesting part of this plan is that the people using the building would determine the speed at which the skyscraper grows. The plan is to start with a basic skeleton of metal poles, modeled after complex bamboo scaffolding. Tenants would start using lower floors, and the things they recycle would be used for insulating panels on the outside. As they use the building and recycle more products, additional construction would begin on upper floors.

Chartier-Corbasson envisions green panels made of plastic bottles, and yellow panels made of paper products. They estimate that in one year, each office worker would contribute about two paper panels and one plastic panel.

The structure would feature wind turbines, observation decks, and gardens. Thomas Corbasson told ITV that he thinks it could be London’s next Gherkin. But there’s an important question: Would people want to build this thing? The tower, which looks like a spiraling glass Christmas tree, may not be to everyone’s tastes, but it’s certainly better than we’d expect from a building made of, as ITV delicately says, “its own rubbish.”

From Outside Magazine, April/May 2021
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Lead Photo: Simon Abrams/Flickr