Winners and finalists
The Bänk – A bench to promote action on plastic pollution
Urban and Public Design
Context: Komma is the cultural youth center in Esslingen, nearby Stuttgart, which aims to promote culture in several formats. Due to sanitary restrictions it’s been nearly impossible to hold any type of live events, making it hard to keep offering cultural activities for the youth of the city. In order to address that, Komma opened a new working space with tools and machinery to engage their community with hands-on activities where people get to experience how to create things themselves, repair old clothes and even recycle plastic. In order to promote the use of this new space, Komma invited Vicente Varella (previously designer at Precious Plastic) to hold workshops on how to recycle plastic into sheets but also to design together a recycled plastic product. What: The outcome of our collaboration is called The Bänk, a bench made together with the local community that serves as a physical representation of how plastic can be a valuable material. The construction of the bench was done entirely inside the workspace at Komma in an open environment where anyone could drop by and help, learn from each other, and participate in the process of making the product. In the process we only used existing common tools and a DIY attitude to make it noticeably more accessible. Our main goal with this action was to bring a closer and more approachable take on hard topics like plastic pollution, but more noticeably to show how you don’t need fancy equipment or expensive technology to make sustainable design. The design takes into account the maximum usage of the material where every single cut has been carefully arranged so there are almost no offcuts generated in the process. Also, we manually formed the plastic into three “U” shapes to ensure the strength of each leg and optimize the amount of material put into them. The pieces are connected to each other using screws and they are dismountable so they can be replaced and recycled individually if needed. The Bänk has already been exhibited at the cultural festival of the city of Esslingen “Stadt im Fluss” in October 2021 and later on it will wander around for display in other local youth centers and public spaces with the intention to bring further conversations on the topic.