Spark unveils plans for colourful beach huts built from recycled ocean plastic


Architecture firm Spark wants to use plastic to build a series of elevated beach huts resembling giant pine cones in Singapore.

Spark's Singapore office envisions using some of the millions of tons of plastic waste dumped into the world's oceans every year to build a series of unusual architectural structures along the shoreline of the city's East Coast Park.

Beach huts by Spark

The aim is to offer sheltered camping spaces for park visitors, but also to help raise awareness about the effects of ocean plastic, which is estimated to be killing over a million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals every year.

A large percentage of the waste is high-density polyethylene (HDPE), a non-biodegradable plastic used for manufacturing items like plastic bottle and yoghurt pots.

Beach huts by Spark

Spark proposes collecting this material, sorting it into colours, then shredding it. The granules would then be poured into shingle-shaped moulds and reheated, creating a new type of tile for cladding a building's exterior.

"The hut is clad with a modular tile made of recycled HDPE plastic, much in the same way that timber shingles are used to clad simple dwellings," Spark director Stephen Pimbley told Dezeen.

Beach huts by Spark
Recycling plan – click for larger image

The pine-cone-like form is intended to evoke both traditional English beach huts and thatched grain-storage huts from Africa. Although Pimbley claims the main inspiration is a locally found seed pod.

"The hut form is similar to the Casuarina tree seeds that are found on the beaches in Southeast Asia," he said.

A precast concrete stem and base would provide the main structure for the huts, and Spark believes this could be a colourful aggregate created with different types of recycled glass.

A timber frame would create the curving upper section of the huts, onto which the plastic tiles would be mounted. Photovoltaic cells would provide energy to power lighting, and a retractable steel rope would provide access for overnight guests.

Beach huts by Spark
Beach hut diagram – click for larger image

Although the project was developed for Singapore, Pimbley is now in talks to build the first ocean-plastic Beach Hut in Australia.

The firm expects it to become "an important vehicle for educating the public about the state of the world's oceans".

Pimbley came up with the idea after reading a report by ocean activist Parley, which has been working with G-Star RAW and Adidas to make wearable products from ocean waste.

Although he is not convinced the material could have many applications in architecture, he believes it offers a lot of possibilities for designers.

Beach huts by Spark
Section – click for larger image

"It's unlikely ocean waste HDPE could become a primary building material, but there is no doubt it has potential as a material source for a wide range of products," he told Dezeen.

One of the most high-profile figures that has been campaigning to raise awareness of ocean plastic is musician Pharrell Williams. Design office Studio Swine has also worked with the material, creating a collection of objects based on the tradition of maritime crafts.

  • guisforyou

    The need is urgent but the resolution awful and non-educational.

  • wenhui pimbley

    There’s a reason why beach huts are built half open. IT IS HOT out there.

  • Hej!

    This is amazing! Those can become new world-famous Singaporean landmarks.

  • Durgen Jensen

    I can’t help but think that these things are cluttering a nice beach in the evening shot rendering.

  • Chad Sutter

    Ladders for access? Are these intended solely for the young and able-bodied? The children and elderly can just bake in the sun and drown in the typhoon, I guess. Poorly thought through.

  • Chris

    Elaborate, gaudy huts on poles. I can’t understand why you would want to litter beautiful beaches with these things? There is no need for it either.

  • spadestick

    Wrong on so many levels. Just make bicycles out of them…

  • I like the idea of elevating them so that the beach is still accessible, and I like the idea of making them out of recycled plastic to raise awareness. But I don’t like their being on the beach itself. Pull them back onto the concrete, away from the palm trees, and they’re great.

    But they remind me of colorful graffiti art. Graffiti art is great when it’s sprayed on drab, gray, flat concrete in the middle of an urban landscape. But would you paint a mural over El Capitan? Speaking as someone from a place that has little natural beauty of its own, or at least natural beauty that is marginalized and ignored, this is the wrong direction for this architecture to be taking. Architecture like this should be part of its environment, not cover it up, and by being so attention-grabbing, that is essentially what these huts are doing. It defeats the point of the exercise, which is to raise awareness about the environment.

  • Jacana06

    Looks like they don’t have real projects!

  • Shawn Kejriwal

    Very informative drawings. The idea of tackling one of the world’s environmental problems and bringing up an awareness through this architecture is great.

    But I think the architecture needs a lot more thought in terms of the space itself. It does not feel like a beach hut even if it does not look like one. It does not look like you can enjoy the visceral and environmental comforts of a beach when you inhabit the space. And these colourful structures which seem to contribute to a outdoor social space are more suitable as temporary installations.