Document Type

Thesis, Senior




Spring 2019


Pacific trash vortex, marine debris, rubber ducks, oil rigs, garbage, floating laboratory






The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, also described as the Pacific trash vortex, has been getting more and more attention recently. It is a gyre of marine debris particles in the north central Pacific Ocean, with an estimated size range from 700,000 square kilometers (about the size of Russia). In 1992, 28,000 rubber ducks were plunged into the ocean after a shipping crate was lost at sea on its way to the US from Hong Kong. Many years later, the rubber ducks have become a vital tool in our understanding of ocean currents, as well as teaching us about ocean pollution.

This proposal uses abandoned offshore oil rigs as a starting point. By reducing and adding structure and equipment to the oil rigs, they become trash traps and giant 3d building printing facilities. The new structures will float on the water and collect plastic garbage, which will be sorted into two kinds: re-usable, or not re-usable. The re-usable group will be reproduced as 3d-printing materials, which will be used to print a new structure around the original oil rigs. The new structure is also a floating laboratory for collecting ocean and climate data. The floating laboratory will travel all over the world by following the ocean's currents. Some of the new structures will travel randomly; others will be operated by people-they could attach to a harbor and stay for a period. Scientists can access the structures to obtain the information they have collected. The structure could serve as temporary exhibition space for communities around the world. The self-growth floating structure is thus not only a laboratory, but also a form of media that tells people: here is the problem-we have lots of garbage.

Additional Information

Thesis Advisors:

Marcos Parga


Local Input

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.

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Architecture Commons