Harvest Dome 2.0: A Geodesic Orb Made of Broken Umbrellas

Kelly Chan Kelly Chan

Earlier this month, MoMA curator Paola Antonelli gave her poetic two cents on the state of ‘green’ design, comparing environmentally responsible design to dark chocolate, both of which should be “delicious and sensual, yet still good for the health of body and soul.” Her most basic guideline for a more sustainable future was to create objects that either last long and can be repaired, or objects that can be innovatively recycled.

While designers have aspired to make long-lasting objects for some time now, the prospect of innovative recycling is still considerably novel, churning out a series of things-that-look-like-other-things, such as homes made out of recycled airplane parts or tables made from discarded toys artfully welded into a standing leg. But we were pleasantly surprised when we discovered that this pristine, floating geodesic dome by SLO architecture and a team of Bronx teens and architecture interns was constructed entirely from discarded, storm-snapped umbrellas and plastic soda bottles.

The Harvest Dome project had begun in the summer of 2011, when SLO architecture received a grant from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council to build the first ever Harvest Dome. The massive floating sculpture was an attempt to call attention to New York City’s waterways and watersheds through a “physical revelation of the city’s accumulated waterborne debris.”

On October 19, 2011, the dome was successfully constructed and sent off for its final destination at the Inwood Hill Park Inlet. But the project hit an unfortunate setback: due to poor weather conditions, the first Harvest Dome never made it to Inwood, marooning instead against Rikers Island, where puzzled NYC Department of Correction officials requisitioned and destroyed the artful mass of debris.

Undeterred, the Harvest Dome team is setting out to build another dome, one that will be bigger, better and flashier than its predecessor. Harvest Dome 2.0 will be outfitted with an array of light-emitting diodes, “inserted into each of the bottles and powered by tiny photovoltaic cells to create a glowing halo in the water at night.” Moreover, the new dome will be erected at a location closer to Inwood Hill Park, with an anticipated exhibition date in August 2012. The team has launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise the necessary $7500 to fund construction and permitting costs for floating the Dome. So if you’ve ever pitied a sad little umbrella cast into a trashcan or a train track, visit the Harvest Dome 2.0 Kickstarter page to donate!

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