December 3, 2021
A Recyclable Recycling Center in Switzerland by HWM Architects
The large and unheated hall follows the same constructive logic to prevent as much waste as possible. The expansive wooden roof—393 feet long and 74 feet wide—forms a large cantilever on one side that offers weather protection to the outdoor parking spaces and trash drop-off zone in front of the hall below. The roof is carried by 24 purple steel columns which are fully demountable, are configured to allow for greater distances between the main girders. Their twisted shape also eliminates the need for any stiffening walls or structures. This grid divides the hall into eleven strips, each exactly three containers wide, two trucks deep and with one rolling gate to each side for maximum flexibility in daily use. The design of the facade corresponds with that of the tower, clearly marking them as two parts of one compound: It’s a layered composition of a dark-glazed wooden formwork on an untreated wooden substructure, aluminum roller shutters and the purple-red painted columns—the purple of the columns reappears in the textile blinds that shade the windows in the tower.
It is these subtle aesthetic connections that turn a suburban recycling center into a piece of architecture, while at the same time still providing a robust and functional tool for the everyday work of collecting and sorting household trash. Importantly, this center was built to be temporary. In 20 years, the highway junction nearby will be completely overhauled and largely relocated to underground tunnels. The city planning authority predicts that once this transformation is complete, land prices will rise and the recycling center will have to move to a new location. With their demountable design, the architects planned for this eventuality, and assuming the materials age well over the next two decades, both buildings can be disassembled and moved where they are needed.
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