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Credit: Michael Barton

In his visionary thesis project for the UBC School of Architecture, Michael Barton imagines converting a tangled mass of plastic drifting in the Pacific Ocean into a tropical island.

The project has all the trappings of a serious architecture proposal: lifelike renderings complete with three-dimensional elevations, diagrams explaining the research, and sequence tables outlining the stages of construction. But his intent was more to get people thinking about what we’re doing to our oceans than to actually build an island.

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The Giant Garbage Patch
of the Pacific


Plastic Soup – Garbage from all over the globe collects in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre, creating an underwater landfill that spans an area estimated to be at least twice the size of Texas.

“I don’t want anybody to be using this as a kit, an instruction manual,” Barton explains. “It’s more a conversation about space and how we occupy space, and how we go about consuming space as we grow in population and as we use more resources.”