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In the plaza just outside Benedum Hall, University of Pittsburgh students from architecture and engineering have installed a distinctive structure. Pillars of hollow cardboard, filled with sand for weight and support, hold up a curving fence of bamboo slats, secured with shredded plastic bottles and plywood chains. A plywood bench supported by the cardboard tubes marks the center and invites passersby to sit and take a look.
But make sure to see it soon, because it won’t last forever—and that’s by design.
The structure is made from nonconventional materials to better understand how each material performs in the elements. The materials include bamboo, harvested from local yards where it grew invasively; cardboard tubes donated by Sonoco Products; teak oil-treated plywood, most of which was fabricated right on campus; and recycled plastic bottles.
Called “NOCMAT Pavilion,” the installation is the product of a collaboration between the Swanson School of Engineering, the Architectural Studies Program, the Pitt Non-Conventional Materials and Technologies Group (PITT-NOCMAT), and the Pitt Makerspace. It was constructed through a course led by Jennifer Donnelly, PhD, called NOCMAT Design-Build Studio.