Design innovation to clean the seas of pollution and recycle plastic in our oceans.

‘The 8th Continent’ (pictured) by Lenka Petráková who is a senior architect at Zaha Hadid Architects in London. The winning concept harvests plastic debris from the ocean surface which is then broken down into recyclable materials. Its five-part structure contains  living quarters  and greenhouses plus biodegradable waste collectors.

Lenka Petráková, developed the idea for her student master thesis at the University of Applied Arts in Studio Hani Rashid a few years ago after having studied ocean pollution.  

“I realised how destroyed the oceans are and how many species are extinct, how much pollution is there, and that the parts that may have never seen a human being, feel the effects of our activities,” she says

The 8th continent is an award-winning design that recycles ocean plastic and is completely self-sustainable. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), at least 8 million tonnes of plastic end up in the sea every year. And a majority of this plastic ends up in our food and body. More than 100,000 marine mammals and turtles and one million sea birds are killed by plastic pollution annually.  

Video: THE 8TH CONTINENT “Architecture and Innovation for the Sea” 2020 Grand Prix, courtesy of the Foundation Jacques Rougerie – Institute de France

The architect Lenka Petráková explains the project in more detail:

The floating station is with different processes answering the environmental changes on site. Object connects research and education facility with ocean plastic recycle centre. The project uses marine science and knowledge to showcase the increasingly troubling side of marine environments, not as a new phenomenon, but as the result of centuries of human – ocean interactions. This unique meeting platform should bring people to this distant environment and fight against the dilution that we cannot hurt the ocean by our action onshore.

The idea was not only to design a concept that cleans the ocean but one that also restores its health.

The station consists of five main parts:
1 – The Barrier that serves to collect waste and harvest tidal energy
2 – The Collector, where waste is sorted, biodegraded and stored
3 – The Research and Education Centre to study and showcase the increasingly troubling side of aquatic environments
4 – Greenhouses where plants are grown, and water is desalinated
5 – Living Quarters with support facilities