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Plastic Whale 'Skyscraper' Breaches in Belgium

Friday, July 6, 2018

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Brooklyn-based architecture firm StudioKCA is making waves with its installation for this year’s Bruges Triennial event in Belgium with a four-story-tall whale “Skyscraper,” made from plastic collected from the reported 150 million tons of plastic waste in the ocean.

The theme for the public event (held from May to September) was “liquid city,” and studio principals Jason Klimoski and Lesley Chang said they couldn’t thing of a more appropriate symbol of the oceans—or liquid cities—than its original skyscraper, a breaching whale.

“Our first thought led us to thinking about the biggest liquid city on the planet (the ocean), how it connects us all, and how the waste produced and consumed in our cities, specifically plastic waste, ends up in the ocean,” the architects said on their Kickstarter page.

“So, we proposed collecting as much plastic waste out of the oceans that we could in four months, and shaping that waste into “Skyscraper,” an almost four-story-tall whale pushing out of one of Bruges' main canals, and arching over historic Jan Van Eyck Square at the city's center.”

The Design

The team worked with the Hawaii Wildlife Fund and the Surfrider Foundation’s Kaua’I Chapter to collect plastic waste along the shores of Hawaii. In four months, the team collected five tons of ocean plastic that was used to make the whale.

The team then sorted the plastic by size, shape and color, to get the pieces ready for fitting.

StudioKCA worked with engineering firm Thornton Tomasetti for the structure of the piece, which included a single steel mast with five spaced steel rings to support the cantilever load of the “Skyscraper.” The team also created 16 curved, aluminum panels that fit together to hold wire mesh, in which pieces of plastic were fitted like a mosaic. Everything was then bolted to the main mast.


Editor's Note: This story was edited for clarity at 9:45 a.m. July 6.


Tagged categories: Aluminum; Design; Public spaces; Steel

Comment from William Cornelius, (7/6/2018, 9:16 AM)

"Brooklyn-based architecture firm StudioKCA is making waves with its installation for this year’s Bruges Triennial event in Belgium with a four-story-tall whale “Skyscraper,” made from 150 million tons of plastic waste." and "A 12-meter-tall whale built with five tonnes of plastic waste fished from the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans was installed at the Bruges Triennial in Belgium...." Am I missing something in this story? There seems to be 145 million tons of plastic unaccounted for.

Comment from Brandy Hadden, (7/6/2018, 9:53 AM)

Hi, William! That unclear wording has been corrected. Thank you very much for reading closely!

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