PET Wall

Light is essential to the realization of architecture, yet in the process of design and construction it is commonly an afterthought. Not only is the source of light important for the quality of illumination within a space, but also the materials used to capture, filter, and redirect the light.

The PET Wall is a self-supporting, luminous curtain made with thousands of postconsumer PET bottles arrayed in stacked honeycomb modules, as well as integrated-LED light nets cycling through gradually undulating sequences of warm and cool white illumination. The lightweight structure makes use of a widely disposed-of postconsumer product due to its advantageous structural and light-filtering properties. Like headlamp or light-fixture lenses, the particular thermoformed geometries of these transparent bottles convey and disperse illumination efficiently while obscuring glare. The result is a thickened surface of modular, tactile light nodes with various possibilities for programmability and interaction.

The PET Wall is designed to expand the potential of second-use materials to the building scale. This new self-supporting “second surface” attempts to inspire a dual reading in which the viewer is simultaneously conscious of the reuse of a product as well as the ephemeral atmosphere it creates when arrayed as a large, expansive light lens.

“PET Wall.” University of Michigan College of Architecture + Urban Planning, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 2008.