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Architecture (MA)

Nico Jeuch

Nico is an architect and researcher with extensive experience in implementation planning and construction management. Through the Bachelor of Art at the ZHAW in Zurich he specialized in the spatial and structural organization of the built environment and learned comprehensive skills in cooperating with various experts. Since 2018 he’s passionately worked on the MangoTree School Project in Kenya. In its simplicity the prototypical concept can, as a modular system, be adapted to different surroundings. The design combines local culture and low-tec solutions with modern approaches to natural light, structural tectonics, and sustainable resource management.

At the Royal College of Art, Nico has internalized and explored principles of regenerative thinking and the circular economy in various contexts. Through this year's project, a broader understanding of plastic as a material, its challenges, and the potential for sustainable design and innovation in the recycling industry has been developed. Nico's practice aims to systematically integrate methods of exchange and interactions between different fields and professions.

Chemical Recycling, Industry, Circular Economy, Innovation, London, Brixton, Loughborough Junction, Plastic Waste


This project is designed to be an interactive machine and a landmark in the plastic recycling industry to educate about various innovative processes. The concept originated from the lack of transparency surrounding recycling practices, despite peoples willingness to recycle. This condition is reinforced by the troubling reality that a substantial amount of England's meticulously sorted recycling waste is dispatched to Turkey, only to be incinerated rather than recycled.

Through the formation of a recycling facility, BREATHING ARCHITECTURE responds to the global problem of plastic waste and aims to illustrate new processes through a distinctive architecture. In that way, the project serves to bring focus to the recycling of plastics and to make visible processes that are otherwise hidden.

Large self-supporting pneumatic structures transform the existing, rough, and uninviting industrial site into a vibrant and accessible hub. Quite literally, the community is connected to the industry through an inflated space. In a bubble wrap-like design, the plastic elements mediate between the existing structure, the recycling plant, and the community. It promotes a careful approach regarding the existing buildings and ensures that the recycling machine is made save and accessible to the public.

The architecture counteracts the stigmatisation of this fantastic material and recalls the joy of plastic by utilising all its unique properties. It aims to present a possible solution for a circular economy and foster an exchange of knowledge about new practices in an innovative industry. 

Chemical Recycling, Industry, Circular Economy, Innovation, London, Brixton, Loughborough Junction, Plastic Waste

This new type of recycling plant is based in Brixton, a designated Creative Enterprise Zone, which is the mayor's vision of providing affordable spaces for artists and creative businesses. Located in Loughborough Junction and surrounded by industrial companies like scrap yards and car garages, synergies are created and in this way the local industrial land is preserved. By doing so, the project contributes to addressing London's shortage of industrial space and support the growth of a vibrant, creative, and industrial community.

Site, Loughborough Junction, Brixton, Recycling Plant

The Wickwood Recycling Hub offers interactive tours of the plant and educates about chemical recycling processes as well as sustainable plastic production.

Plastics can be mechanically recycled into lower-quality products or undergo a chemical recycling process called thermolysis. Thermolysis breaks down plastic waste into its basic building blocks. The now recycled crude oil is then refined in the refinery tower and used to produce new "virgin" plastics.

In the site plan, the tour through the facility is marked with arrows and different spaces are created depending on the event. The series of images shows the visitor‘s perspective. From the entrance through the viaduct arch in the south of the site directly onto a spacious community square where the guided tour starts. In a small exhibition in the former sub-station, the innovative recycling processes are explained theoretically and then the feeding of the machine is demonstrated practically. After the chemical recycling, the crude oil is processed into plastic pellets and in the workshop visitors can make their own product from sustainable plastic. The industry site provides various Maker Spaces and their products can be purchased in the shop.

At the end of the day all spaces are deflated.

Community Flyer
Material, Plastic Recycling
Exhibition, Recycling Plant
Feeder, Machine, Plastic Waste
Workshop, Plastic Product, Sustainability
Shop, Plastic
Model, Architecture, Industry
Cross Section, Inflatable, Frame, Plastic, Recycling Plant
Inflated Cross Section
Layout, Ground Floor, Inflatable, Frame, Plastic, Recycling Plant
Layout, Inflatable, Frame, Plastic, Recycling Plant
Educational Lab
Layout, Inflatable, Frame, Plastic, Recycling Plant
Library Gallery
Layout, Inflatable, Frame, Plastic, Recycling Plant
Innovation Lab
Layout, Inflatable, Frame, Plastic, Recycling Plant
Deflated, Elevation, Inflatable, Frame, Plastic, Recycling Plant
Deflated Elevation
Inflated, Elevation, Inflatable, Frame, Plastic, Recycling Plant
Inflated Elevation
Detail, Inflatable, Frame, Plastic, Recycling Plant
Facade Bracing

Plastic can take on practically any form, so that the tectonic properties are not always obvious. For this inflatable structure Dyneema is proposed, a very durable material commonly used for sails. The visible fibres within the material give clear indications of the directions of force and lend the material an almost natural look. The layered fibres and transparent resins add depth and complexity to the overall design. A desire for haptic qualities of a material is expressed, for example, in the revival of the Eames Fiberglass Chair. In the 1950s, Fiberglass was praised as the wood of the future. By working with a material constructed in a similar way, the aim is to evoke a comparable experience and foster a more differentiated understanding of the stigmatized material.

A label for sustainable plastic products could also contribute to a better understanding by the user. On the tag, the properties of the material are indicated so that it could be used again in another application and its recyclability is documented.

The detail shows how all the elements are joined and how the delicate Machine Frames made of cast steel brace the outer wall through the plastic shell. Except for two adjustments, namely the drainage and the anchor plates, the project is completely reversible.

Prototype, Inflatable, Frame, Plastic, Recycling Plant
Tag, Inflatable, Plastic, Recycling Plant, Circular Economy, Reuse