Skip to main content

People's Pavilion

Award category
Techniques, materials and processes for construction and design
You want to submit
NEW EUROPEAN BAUHAUS AWARDS : existing completed examples
Project title
People's Pavilion
Full project title
People's Pavilion: 100% borrowed building
The People's Pavilion is an architectural statement for a new circular economy. This is accomplished with a radical new strategy: all of the materials needed to make the 250 m2 building have been borrowed. The People’s Pavilion shows a new future for sustainable building: a powerful design statement with new collaborations, intelligent construction methods and a new cladding material from 100% recycled plastic from household waste. 
Where was your project implemented in the EU?
Noord Brabant
5617 AE
When was your project implemented?
Has your project benefited from EU programmes or funds?
Which programme(s) or fund(s)? Provide the name of the programme(s)/fund(s), the strand/action line as relevant and the year.
Please provide a summary of your project
The People’s Pavilion was made to set a new standard for a more circular economy. It was the third collaboration of spatial designers Overtreders W and the architects of bureau SLA. In an expanding series of structures, the two studios researched building with 100% second hand purchased recycled building materials (Noorderparkbar) and building with 100% plastic waste (Pretty Plastic). With these projects they explore the boundaries of sustainable building, by coming up with extreme ideas, getting their hands dirty, turning the building process upside down and never giving up. In the spring of 2017, the Dutch Design Foundation asked bureau SLA and Overtreders W to design a temporary structure for lectures and workshops during the Dutch Design Week. The brief: design an iconic building of 260 m2 for 200 people, for 9 days - and set a new example of sustainability. At first the brief looks absurd: a building that is only used for nine days can hardly be called sustainable – unless the building materials are returned, undamaged, to their suppliers afterwards. This is exactly what happened. The designers used borrowed foundation piles, concrete reinforcement mesh, a greenhouse roof, 9000 kg of plastic waste and about 50 m3 of construction timber. All materials have later been reused because we did not drill, screw, nail, or glue anything. New constructions methods had to be invented in collaboration with structural engineers of Arup Amsterdam. All materials were brought to the site, we arranged them neatly on the Ketelhuisplein, made a full size building out of it for nine days, and took everything apart afterwards. The last step was to return everything to the original owners. In this way, we made a building that left no ecological footprint at all and closed the material loop completely.
Please give information about the key objectives of your project in terms of sustainability and how these have been met
With the People's Pavilion we wanted to invent, build and expose new construction methods for a circular economy. The motto "100% borrowed" emphasizes that humans are not the owners of planet Earth. We are only borrowers of all that the earth produces and provides. In the building economy this is a concept that is far from reality. With a building made from 100% borrowed materials we radically introduce this concept in construction. We add an extra loop to the life of building materials. The condition of all building materials before AND after the building assembly and disassembly needed to be perfect. New construction methods had to be invented. The base for the People's Pavilion was a construction of 12 concrete foundation piles and 19 wooden frames, designed in collaboration with the Arup engineers. New material sources had to be explored, with the help of the company New Horizon. Not only materials from traditional suppliers and producers were borrowed, but also from Eindhoven residents themselves. And to be clear, it’s not 70% or 80% or even 95%, but 100% of the materials: concrete and wooden beams, lighting, facade elements, glass roof, recycled plastic cladding, even the Pavilion’s glass roof, all of which were returned completely unharmed - with one special exception - to the owners following the Dutch Design Week. The exception? The striking colored tiles that made up the Pavilion’s upper facade, made from plastic household waste materials collected by Eindhoven residents, which were distributed among those very residents at the end of the event.     
Please give information about the key objectives of your project in terms of aesthetics and quality of experience beyond functionality and how these have been met
Key element in the Dutch Design Week is ... design. The aesthetics of the People's Pavilion elevate the building from a temporary structure to a new architectural vocabulary. Our buildings will change due to the invention of new construction methods that support a circular economy.  The People's Pavilion shows many examples of these aesthetical changes. The design of the load-bearing frames of big timber sections strapped together by steel strips is an example of this new vocabulary. The positioning of the strips has been meticulously calculated, but the result is a well balanced and pleasing pattern of stripes on wood. The carefully designed combination of borrowed vintage banks from the Amsterdam Keizersgracht Church and modern refurbished Vitra lease furniture brings a quality that exceeds coincidental collage architecture. Visitors are impressed by the aesthetics of the pavilion and feel uplifted by the visible potential of circular design thinking. Another example is the use of plastic waste as facade cladding. The use of plastic waste makes each and every of the 9.500 tiles unique in colour and texture. After production the tiles were sorted to create a facade design. The building looks new and fresh, but also very much alive. The design looks and feels brand new, but could only be made by using second hand materials and upcycled waste. The People's Pavilion is an example of what new aesthetics and experiences can do in a circular economy. 
Please give information about the key objectives of your project in terms of inclusion and how these have been met
The People's Pavilion was the main pavilion of the Dutch Design Week. The pavilion hosted a platform for future makers from all over the world. It was also used as a meeting place and hang-out for visitors and served as a venue for music and theater. Visitors could enter the pavilion at any time of the day - and completely free of charge. Everybody was welcome to attend one of the debates, shows and performances without having to purchase a ticket. Eindhoven residents from all ages and educational background have visited the pavilion. Some just out of curiosity, others with a dedicated interest in the sustainable design statement.  Also, waste of Eindhoven house holds has been collected in the months before the erection of the pavilion. A call was made in the local newspapers to bring plastic waste to the event site, explaining what the purpose of the upcycling process. Every household, regardless of income or background, could donate plastic household waste in special garbage bins. 9.000 kilo's of plastic waste has been collected, making the Eindhoven residents substantial contributors to the project. Each household could obtain a plastic facade tile after the event for free. One could state that even the waste was borrowed.   
Please give information on the results/impacts achieved by your project in relation to the category you apply for
The Dutch Design Week (DDW) is the largest and most important design event in Northern Europe and takes place in Eindhoven. More than 300.000 people have visited the pavilion. An even greater number of people have seen publications about the design and construction of the People's Pavilion. It serves as an outstanding and radical example for new ways of constructing buildings in a circular economy. The techniques, materials and processes for construction and design of the People's Pavilion have had a great impact on circular design thinking. The project was awarded the Dutch Design Award, the Frame Award, the Detail Award, the Hans Sauer Award and the ARC18 Innovation Award. The Pretty Plastic tiles won the Architizer Product Award and were nominated for the Rossana Orlandi Guiltless Plastic Prize and the New Material Award. The Pavilion was programmed for two weeks during the days and evenings with events like the Age of Wonderland, a TEDx try-out, the Making of Your World readings, and a Climate Action debate. The Pavilion accommodated 200 seated or 600 people standing and was open to all: one didn’t need a ticket to enter. Guided tours about the concepts and ideas behind the People's Pavilion have been held for wide ranges of national and international groups. The People's Pavilion has set a new standard for sustainable thinking in the building industry. 
Please explain the way citizens benefiting from or affected by the project and civil society have been involved in the project and what has been the impact of this involvement on the project
The People's Pavilion was used as a meeting place and hang-out for visitors and served as a venue for music and theater. The Pavilion was programmed for two weeks during the days and evenings with events like the Age of Wonderland, t a TEDx try-out, the Making of Your World readings, and a Climate Action debate. More than 300.000 people have visited the event. Citizens have contributed actively to the realisation of the project by donating plastic household waste for the production of Pretty Plastic facade cladding. More than 9.000 kilos of plastic waste has been used for the production of 9.500 recycled plastic tiles. The project was used in an early stage to involve and inform civil society about the potential of circular building design. 
Please highlight the innovative character of the project
The innovative character is in the new construction method that was invented. We turned the building process upside down, and developed new cladding material from 100% recycled plastic. Construction: If you borrow something, you have to give it back unharmed. This meant that we couldn't use traditional construction methods such as screwing or glueing, but had to invent new methods that don’t leave traces. The supporting structure is mainly held together by straps and the forces are transmitted by friction. Traditional engineering software is not designed for such a construction. Arup conducted material tests with the Eindhoven University of Technology, to see how the structure would behave under load. Based on the results, mathematical evidence was derived. Building process: In a normal building process, a design is thought out completely before the contractor buys materials and starts building. When building with borrowed materials, this process must be rearranged: we weren’t sure which materials we’d be able to borrow exactly. So we made a sketch design with what we thought would be widely available, and used it to convince partners to work with us. As we proceeded, we found unexpected materials, whereas other materials we thought would be available were in fact hard to find. We had to adapt the design quite a few times, even after the construction start of the pavilion. Cladding: The colourful plastic tiles from the pavilion facade are made of plastic household waste from Eindhoven. After the pavilion was published widely worldwide, we received an amazing number of calls from people asking if and where the tiles could be bought. This led us to market them as a building material, with the proper certification. For example, the product has now been certified, and Pretty Plastic tiles of 100% plastic waste are now sold worldwide: from trash to tile. 
Please explain how the project led to results or learnings which could be transferred to other interested parties
Designers may feel the weight of guilt of half of the waste coming from building and infrastructure, which may be the impetus for change, but instead of thinking of a major industry transformation as overwhelming, it helps to think of it as a design problem: Fundamentally rethinking the design process from the start is very exciting: circular thinking offers opportunities. If you think about disassembly not as waste producing, but as a source for materials, disassembly becomes a positive, and a means to keep materials local and in circulation, thereby eliminating carbon-producing and resource-depleting extraction and manufacturing practices. Collaborating on these new systems opens a world of research and invention for practitioners and students, designers, and contractors. You can feel the expansion of possibilities that this way of thinking allows us. The People's Pavilion is a shining example of circular design and as such was widely discussed, both within the Netherlands and internationally. The project serves as a reference in many professional and student projects. It won numerous awards and was published widely all over the globe. It set a standard for circular design thinking. The building may have vanished as quickly as it came, but its echo will continue to reverberate for a long time to come.  
Is an evaluation report or any relevant independent evaluation source available?
By ticking this box, you declare that all the information provided in this form is factually correct, that the proposed project has not been proposed for the Awards more than once under the same category and that it has not been subject to any type of investigation, which could lead to a financial correction because of irregularities or fraud.


In order to submit your project, please make sure you have filled in all the mandatory fields marked with *, in both the “Basic information” and “Description of the project” tabs.


The country you have selected is not a Member State of the EU.

Please select the country your project was either implemented in the EU for Strand A in or is being developed or intended to be implemented in the EU for Strand B.