Option Studio: The Upcycle Studio
Instructor: Peter Ortner
The Fold Blocks
The Fold Blocks is a system of modular units designed with the primary purpose of being a display shelf. This system was developed in response to the project brief in which we were to upcycle retired Singapore Airlines (SIA) airplane windows. We felt that it would be meaningful to use the retired airplane window to create a pavilion to showcase SIA’s culture and heritage.
The pavilion is designed to be a Wunderkammer, which is defined as a place where a collection of curiosities and rarities are exhibited. It is more commonly known today as the Cabinet of Curiosities. A Wunderkammer is more fitting than the modern museum to showcase SIA’s culture and heritage as it is less formal, more fun, and more open-ended.
Design for circularity and discrete architecture are two key concepts that guided this project. Primarily, the transferable aspects from discrete architecture are a short and integrated production chain, the potential for automation and the concept of limited modular parts establishing vast variation and complexity. By following these two key concepts throughout our design, it ensured that we did not lose sight of the broader environmental impact that a built project can have.
Embodying the concepts of discrete architecture, the Fold Block is a modular building system with components designed to be function agnostic. This means that the function depends on the way the components are aggregated and be customised to the needs of the users. The various use cases include common furniture, such as chairs, tables, and display shelves, as well as temporary space-making, such as exhibition booths or pavilions.
Also known as the cabinet of curiosities, it is the predecessor of the modern museum. The Wunderkammer offers unique arrangements of display pieces which allows its visitors to both look through the lens of its curators as well as draw their own perspectives. The SIA Wunderkammer was made to embody the essence of upcycling and enrich its visitors on the SIA culture and heritage.
Design for Circularity
Circular design is about creating products and services that no longer have a beginning and an end. The purpose is to design products that can “be made to be made again”. The ambition is to have less waste and to value add to the entire ecosystem.
Kraft paper sandwich board was chosen to be the main building material as it is sustainable, lightweight, cheap and fully recyclable.
In the circular economy system diagram of the Fold Blocks, approaches such as reuse, store and repair are repeated with a higher frequency as compared to recycling. (The frequency is represented by the thickness of the arrows.) This is possible because we value repair and reuse more than recycling.
By designing modules that can be easily stored, reused, and repaired, we ensure that the modules can remain in the cycle for a long duration.