Bottle canopy

A canopy made of everyday drinks bottles has a splash of colour added, and this simple twist really turns the design around. Over 1,500 PET bottles were filled with coloured water and put on display in Lincoln, Nebraska. It’s a quietly beautiful little project.

Materia loves innovative materials. We also enjoy good, innovative use of well-known materials. Take the lowly PET bottle, the type often used for carbonated drinks. These are usually discarded after use: luckily most of them are recycled these days. This design, a canopy structure used for parking a car under, is a brightly coloured exception to the rule.

The project uses 1,581 PET bottles. PolyEthylene Terephthalate is a common thermo-plast, and around 30% of the world’s production goes into bottles and other food storage. PET plastic is also tough, lightweight and resistant to many chemicals: ideal for a low-budget outside project.

The bottles were collected, cleaned and filled with water, which was coloured according to the hanging height. The height and colours were arranged according to a computer script that the designer built.

The caps were connected to a piece of string between 15 cm and 75 cm long and then installed on a framework lattice. The entire matrix of bottles, arranged in a grid of 51 x 31, was then hoisted into place.

The remarkable thing about filling the bottles with just a little water is that the bottle’s shape becomes very clear. The five-sided symmetry is instantly visible in the colours. This has led to the canopy being compared to a bed of (upside down) flowers, with the colours representing petals. The designers were looking to stimulate creative alternatives for recycling and reusing materials. They’ve certainly managed that.

More on the fabrication process here.