Game Changers

Competition Details

Re:Use Canopy

by Biosarch
Co-authors: Charles Lee, Jess Austin

About the Project:

The re:Use canopy is a temporary pavilion, installed at the Stable Café, headquarters of the weekend-long Architecture in the City festival organized by the American Institute of Architects’ San Francisco chapter (AIASF). The project makes use of the festival’s theme “everyday design” by exploring the use of everyday objects in art & architecture. The canopy is made from over 2000 plastic cups, harvested from multiple events including the Outside Lands concert in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco.

The plastic cup is a ubiquitous container so pervasive in our lives that it barely registers when we hold one or when we throw one away. This project asks us to take a pause in this cycle and consider the life of the plastic cup from use to re-use. We at BIOS believe that there is a secondary stage of use for the plastic cup and for other everyday-items which has yet to be fully explored.

The re:Use canopy offers critique and suggests an alternative to the usual waste cycle of the plastic cup. During the project’s assembly, participants were offered beer in similar cups, in order to highlight the new dual-identity of this normally disposable and mundane object. After their time in the re:Use canopy, the cups will be used in a larger gallery installation slated for later this year.

The re:Use canopy is an exploration of the interplay between computational design and human creativity. To assemble the cups, BIOS organized a party and asked volunteers to play a “game”, the rules of which were modeled after a very simple computer algorithm. In playing the game, participants created a pattern of cups on the structure, making use of the range of colors we had received from our donors.

The “game” was loosely controlled allowing participants flexibility within the rules of the algorithm. Participants were given laminated cards representing blocks of red and clear cups in predefined patterns. They were asked to use the pattern blocks to create large areas of clear cups within the field of red. Prizes were offered, both as incentive for following the rules and to reward creative expression. After the event we ran a similar algorithm in our CAD software to see what differences emerged in the patterning. This added a unique insight into the nature of algorithmic design and its relationship to the human element of creative participation.