Recycled Island

A floating self-sustaining single-family house that is constructed from waste material.


3D impression of Recycled Island prototype

WHIM architecture wants to further design and develop this with a prototype. WHIM architecture produces a modern, whimsical, sculptural architecture within its wider context. WHIM architecture is an international architecture firm, set up in Rotterdam (NL) by Ramon Knoester in 2004. The work is a combination of design and research. Where society changes, architecture should adapt. Much time is invested in researching this manifesto on how society changes and on how to react on it by architecture. And also, on the way in which this adapting architecture can feedback into the society that created it. WHIM architecture is a collaborative practice working together with engineering and construction offices, with financial experts and with foreign architects to achieve the best quality in our buildings as in our research. For Recycled Island we are working with several advisors/consultants including CODA; a studio for architectural and urban research and design established by Caroline O´Donnell in New York in 2008.

In the past years

Recycled Island started as a proposal to build a new floating habitat from marine litter in the North Pacific Gyre. This project came from my own personal interest in the possibility of habitats that respond to the rising sea level as well as in the recycled plastics, in particular, sea-waste as a building material. After years of gathering information and speaking to experts I visualized my ideas into a concept design. These images have been published worldwide.

3D impression new floating habitats constructed from marine litter
3D impression new floating habitats constructed from marine litter


Marine litter is not easy to collect from the Ocean. One of the major difficulties is to get the plastics from the ocean water without harming marine life. The plastics, after being in the ocean for years, break into smaller fragments. Samples of these plastics are taken with small mesh sized nets that also catch organisms living in the ocean.

There are many wonderful examples of structures made from recycled plastic, but we still need to test the best recycling method for the plastics that have been floating in the Ocean. These plastics are affected by the salty water and the sun and have become a kind of their own.

And now

Taking this project step by step the proposal is to design a small floating habitat from coastal pollution. Besides the marine litter, there are also huge quantities of plastics being deposited on coastlines.

Coastal pollution, Dakar, Senegal
Coastal pollution, Dakar, Senegal

The realization of a prototype will physically prove our theory and will give us the opportunity to test the strength of the recycled plastics and will stimulate the further development of the project. In this the most suitable recycling techniques are considered. The prototype should be built from hollow building blocks made by recycling the plastic waste from coastlines. These hollow elements will be the components from which Recycled Island will be constructed. The prototype is a small version of an overall concept.

The typical components of the family home: shared space, private space, garden, and service spaces have new constraints imposed by their new littoral contexts, and so the organization of the components themselves is rethought. The recycled plastic creates the possibility of translucent materiality and more fluid connections between spaces.

The creation of the prototype will illustrate:

  • 1: The potential of (sea) plastic recycling.
  • 2. Flood-proof living.
  • 3. Sustainable and self-sufficient housing.

The prototype can eventually be on display in any major (harbour) city.

3D-impression prototype
3D-impression prototype

Legend image:

  • 1. Single family home.
  • 2. Solar roof.
  • 3. Agriculture for food. Use of compost (toilet).
  • 4. Seaweed cultivation for food and fertilizer.
  • 5. Blue energy from wave motion.

We will further design the prototype to be seaworthy and self-sufficient with the help of our advisors. For the plastic recycling we will visualize the potential that we see and present this to researchers and manufactures that are currently achieving promising results in the creation of composite materials. We are already familiar with the green material WPC (wood-plastic composite), that is successfully used as the top decking of a boat. Seaweed plastic composite are also already under development, but we still need to find the most suitable composite for our project.

Section prototype
Section prototype

Principle section prototype:
1. Platform; Hollow blocks, covered with vegetation.
2. Balustrade; Hollow blocks, filled with soil
3. Roof, Blocks filled with none recyclable waste, covered with solar cells
4. External wall, Blocks filled with none recyclable waste, green façade

With the success of the prototype more sustainable and flood-proof habitats can be realized.

Your support

We need your support to further design and develop the prototype of Recycled Island. We already have a concept, a first sketch, contact with several plastic recyclers and are sharing our ideas and experiences with volunteers to collect the plastic from coastlines. The unique character of this project results in the interest of the worldwide press.

3D impression from the prototype at a coastline.
3D impression from the prototype at a coastline.

Now we need to continue the design so that we can expand the contact with plastic recyclers effectively and start testing the realization of the prototype. The progress of the project can be followed on our website: and on our Facebook page: .

The budget is required to have a complete design of the prototype in a little bit less than a year. For more information please see our website.

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

The main challenge is to find the best recycling technique. There are successes in recycling coastal pollution. The first new test products from collected plastics of a coastline are already presented. But we need to take this a step further. Despite the fact that plastics don’t biodegrade, plastics do break down into smaller pieces after being in the sun and salty water for years. Of course this should not happen to our floating home. What we need to do is to upgrade the plastic waste and to give it a longer life span. The intention is to do this with natural fibres. Natural fibre reinforced plastics have a lot of potential for this project. It would be great if we can reinforce the plastic waste with algae fibres for the creation of our hollow blocks. When building at sea, algae is a local material that is easily found or provided by seaweed cultivation.
Of course plastic recycling is not within our line of work and we will be depending on experts to support us.

Source: Kickstarter