Trilithon of Plastic Pollution: Metaphor in Milan

Photo: ©Alessandra Terranova/ Vatraa

Our ancient ancestors left stone monuments for us to admire and wonder at but the most lasting legacy we’re leaving for our descendants may be plastic waste.

National Geographic’s 2019 campaign “Planet or Plastic” included a competition for young architects to create an art installation representing the topic, one that could become a landmark. Among the over 1600 entries from 86 countries was this remarkable trilithon made from bales of crushed plastic water bottles created in Milan by the architectural group VATRAA and entitled “Plastic Monument”. VATRAA, based in London and Bucharest, as founded by two young Romanian architects Anamaria Pircu and Bogdan Rusu.

Rusu said in an interview in Fast Company, “Our ancestors left us real assets like the pyramids, the Colosseum, or Stonehenge, but part of our legacy might be plastic waste.” Other ancient sites were considered for the recreation but in the end Stonehenge was chosen for its pure form. The uprights and lintel are actually hollow, with their form created by 8-inch outer skin of crushed plastic bottles encased in mesh. A nice touch is that the mesh trilithon “was sculpted to add the kind of texture that a stone pillar might show, based on a preexisting 3D model of the Great Trilithon.” That’s the kind of detail Clonehenge likes to see!

“Plastic Monument” in Milan

On our social media accounts (Twitter, Facebook group, Facebook Page, Mastodon, and Instagram) and on this blog we discuss the many things Stonehenge means to many different people. Here we see the iconic form of the inner trilithons being used to symbolise the legacy left to us by mankind of the distant past. The powerful and unmistakable form of the stone trilithon speaks to us of the strength of those in the past who found their way in a wild and untracked world toward civilisation as we, I was going to say as we know it today, but perhaps at this point it is best to say civilisation as we once knew it. Maybe hollow fake stones formed of crushed plastic water bottles are a fitting monument to what we have become today.

An article posted by Design Boom about this installation says: “It is hoped that ‘Plastic Monument’ will be reinstalled in other iconic locations across the world in hopes to continue the spread of this powerful message. Bogdan Rusu, founding partner at VATRAA, notes: ‘The installation is not designed to be beautiful, but to make us think about the consequences of our actions in the long run. We hope that this will inspire people of influence or regular plastic users to consider the bigger impact of the decisions they make today.’”

Clonehenge covers replicas and models of Stonehenge from the sublime to the ridiculous. We’re inclined to file VATRAA’s remarkable work toward the sublime end of that spectrum. A wonderful use of Stonehenge’s iconic status in the global consciousness.

We hope to write a post here about Joe McNamara’s recent work ‘Unhenged’ in Brentwood, UK before long. Until then, kind friends, we wish you good days and happy henging!