Cast in Place


A pavilion made entirely from recycled materials was built on Governor’s Island just off Manhattan: aluminum cans, wood and cracked clay from construction sites. The pavilion was the winning entry for the 2017 City of Dreams competition, designed and built by Team Aesop, a group of five architects and engineers from New York. The competition was held by the not-for-profit arts organization FIGMENT, the AIANY Emerging New York Architects Committee, and the Structural Engineers Association of New York. FIGMENT organizes an all-summer arts festival on the city-owned island — a fortress during colonial times turned tourist destination — with the pavilion as the centerpiece.

AESOP wants to promote the protection of the environment and sustainability, says Powell Draper of Team Aesop, who works in the New York office of the German-based firm Schlaich, Bergermann, and Partner. The pavilion consists of 15 large panels entirely built from pre-used materials. Wet clay from a construction site in Queens was poured into a one-inch-deep mold made from recycled wood. The clay was left in the sun to crack. After about a week, melted aluminum was used to fill the cracks. Team Aesop used 150,000 cans altogether, most of them donated by the Brooklyn-based recycling company Sure we Can. “This is approximately the amount all the citizens of New York drink in half an hour,” says Draper. After the aluminum became solid again, the clay was removed. Now, a silvery panel remains that resembles a large spider web. “This was a new and experimental way of construction, also for us,” says Draper.

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The competition came with a $3000 reward, but since the pavilion did cost about $30,000 to build, most of the money had to be sourced from Kickstarter. When the summer is over, the pavilion will be recycled again, this time into park benches.

Pictures: Eva Schweitzer