Sustainable Design: 'Urban Mining' In Tapei Turns Garbage Into Gold [VIDEO]

By Jacob Kleinman September 13, 2012 9:22 PM EDT
Arthur Huang Miniwiz Sustainable Energy Development urban mining

Arthur Huang next to a wall made out of recycled plastic bottles. (Photo: CNN Video screenshot)

Since 2006 architect Arthur Huang and his company, Miniwiz Sustainable Energy Development, have been building iPhone cases, solar panels and even buildings out of trash through a process they call "urban mining." Miniwiz collects refuse in and around Tapei, turning recycled plastic into iPhone cases, recycled paper into solar panels and even a full-scale building out of used plastic bottles.

Huang has sold over 60,000 products imprinted with the words "100 percent made from trash," but he hopes that Miniwiz can shift towards constructing buildings out of urban trash in the future. In order to demonstrate the durability of their structures Miniwiz built a nine-story pavilion called the EcoArk out of POLLI-Bricks (specially treated plastic bottles).

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"These bricks, these modular bricks, these honeycomb bricks that intelock each other to create a very stong structure to withstand a typhoon but also insulate against the sun," Huang told CNN. The one thing the bottles can't do is hold up the building on their own.

That doesn't mean they're not safe though. Huang and his team took to the EcoArk fire torches, burning the building at 600 degrees to demonstrate it's durability. Next, Huang is hoping to build an entire factory through urban mining off the coast of Taiwan.

Huang's work is rooted in his belief that sustinability is more important today than ever before, noting that more than "100 years of industrial waste surround us."

"In this generation we have to take chances," he said. We have to value our resources by taking big steps and doing gutsy moves."

via Core77

Check out CNN's video report on Huang and Miniwiz:

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