Carton Pavilion – Reference for the poject (Phase 3a)



CUAC Arquitectura + Sugar Platform







The Carton Pavilion is a temporary installation that was developed in 2010 in Granada because of the celebration of the world recycling day.

It appears with the idea of form the world’s bigger recycled material construction and was developed as a collaborative process which involves a part of the population of Granada for the project realisation that mainly involves students of architecture and from elementary schools.

It was an intervention totally constructed with recycled cartons that form an own space related aesthetically with the Alhambra and that studied new construction methods and the possibilities of the carton of milk as constructive material.

The project finds its place in a series of international interventions destined to create awareness about the necessity of recycling and waste treatment for the environment protection.

It was coordinated by CUAC Architecture and Sugar Platform that develop the project and involved the students to create the pavilion.





The pavilion was located in Granada, a city of 240.000 inhabitants in Andalucía, in the south of Spain.

Plano Granada

After the construction of the pieces that compose the pavilion, they were moved to their final location where they were assembled, in the “Plaza Curie” (Curie Square) of the “Parque de las ciencias” (Science Center), located in the south of the city close to one of the accesses of the city from the highway.


The “Parque de las Ciencias” is an interactive museum about science, of more than 70.000 square meters; is located near the centre of Granada it is a located in a very accessible point. All of this makes it an important touristic point in the city. Was inaugurated in 1995 and the project was directed by Carlos Ferrater.

It has a strategic location beside the cultural centre of Caja Granada and the business forum creating a referential point that makes their external areas as the Marie Curie Square a perfect location to situate a project of these characteristics.




Population Involved (Characteristics)


As a citizens’ consciousness-raising project for recycling, the proposal is focused on children and young people that had, though their participation, a main role in the development of the pavilion and was involved actively in order they understand in first person the necessity of their implication in the usual recycling process.


– Elementary Students of the province of Granada

First of all, around 5.000 kids of different elementary schools of the province of Granada were involved in the project.

They were students from 8 to 10 years old corresponding to the 4th and 5th course of elementary education of 100 schools of the whole province, that include people from the capital to people from very small towns. That supposes people from many different cultural levels and both genders.


– Students of the First course of Projects of the School of Architecture of Granada

On the other hand, all the students of the subject of Projects 1 of the School of Architecture of Granada participated in the different parts of the project’s construction.

They were mainly young people of both between 18 and 20 years old that deal with the construction of a real project for the first time. The professors of the different groups coordinated them and the project was set as a practical work to make through the union of the cartons with simple elements as cable ties and staples in order they don’t need a specific previous knowledge to carry out with the work.



Existing Controversies


In the context in which the project appears exists a problem due to the recycling taxes were low because in the area the trash were not separated in order to throw them in the different collecting containers. Moreover, the people that decide to separate did not do it properly and for this reason an important part of the trash that was separated ends in the incorrect container.


In the case of the cartons, many times were deposited in the blue containers (paper & cardboard) because their external appearance and for this reason the consciousness-raising campaign was focused on this specific type of waste in order to inform about the necessity of separate and throw them to the yellow container.

To get it the campaign was focused mainly for the children, in order to get their families start to separate through the children’s actions; or, in the best situation they did it in the properly way.



Involved Agents


–       Babydog S.L.


It is an advertisement company that was asked for consciousness-raising campaign that turns afterwards into the Carton Pavilion. They were in charge of the carton collecting campaign and the broadcasting of the event that were realised for the world recycling day.

They also carry out with the general coordination of the project and they ask the architecture firms for the pavilion design and construction.


–       CUAC Arquitectura (Tomás G. Píriz & Javier Castellano Pulido) + Sugar Platform (Julián Fajardo & Christopher Beabouz).

General design of the pavilion and project coordination.

Realization of the pavilion in collaboration with the University of Granada, coordinating the constructive process and the pavilion assemblage.


–       E.T.S. de Arquitectura of the University of Granada students.

120 students of the Projects Area (First course of projects – 2009/2010 Course) coordinate by Elisa Valero, Miguel Martínez Monedero & Rafael Sánchez Sánchez that constructed and assembled the project using the school of architecture’s building to storage the milk cartons and assemble the modules that composed the pavilion.


–       Javier Callejas + Sugar Platform (Photographers)

In charge of the photographs, in order to publish the installation due to its temporary nature after the pavillion disappears.


–       Environment Area of the Diputación de Granada (Junta de Andalucía) + RESUR (regional urban solid waste consortium) Granada.

Promoters of the project by giving the institutional support to the project and contributing by supporting economically the intervention. Also the treatment waste plant where the cartons were recycled is property of RESUR.


–       Consorcio Parque de las ciencias

Composed by many public institutions (that include the Environment Area of the Diputación de Granada) collaborate with the project and provide the physical space for the pavillion location.


–       Schools of the province of Granada

Around 5.000 students of different elementary schools of the province of Granada participate in the project by collecting all the milk cartons that were used to construct the pavilion.


–       Ecoembes

As the organization in charge of the management of cans, cartons, and plastic bottles in Spain, Ecoembes takes part in the project by being who did the transport of the cartons until the treatment plant as the last participant in the pavilion management process.


–       Puleva

Puleva took part in the 17th of May celebration by giving cartons that contained milk and milkshakes for the kids that participated in the activity.

–       World Record Guinness Judges

They were the people in charge of certificate that the Guinness World Record has been reached. They were two people that went from London exclusively for the event celebration.





Project Phases


“The recycling system is shown with the capability to generate a concrete spatial experience, bringing to the limit the possibilities of a constructive material as singular as the carton” (extract from the project memory). It’s for that reason that the project is understood as a cycle in which the constructive material is a waste product that has a new use before being recycled, in this way once the project ends disappear totally.


esquema bricks-Presentación1

0. Previous phases

Cartons’ production, transport, filled, distribution of milk, juices and others cartons, users purchasing and consumption of the products that contains.

This phases set are previous to the project but are considered part of it because they are the previous steps that makes possible the project realisation.


1. Project Managing

In front of an order for a consciousness-raising citizens’ campaign Babydog propose the possibility of create a castle made with recycled materials using the record Guinness obtaining for making visible the project and get the most broadcast that was possible.

To get it the ask CUAC and Sugar Platform the development of the ideas they have in mind to transform them in a reality that permit them to accomplish their main objective.


2. Design & Organization

The first phase of the project, strictly speaking, is transformation of the order in a constructive process in itself through a participative process with the collaboration of the architectonic projects students. Is also established the coordination of the different agents that was going to participate in their realisation.








The designing phase turns into a lineal process that was evolving until the just project’s inauguration day.

In a previous phase is set a teaching process in which during a month the students think in constructive solutions and the project developing but they do not reach satisfactory results.


After this period the constructive + structural system was set and some models and tests were done until they reach with the most effective solution with the resources they had while the pavilion’s construction – use – recycling cycle was being set.

The organisation manages the spaces that will participate in the assembling process in order to guarantee the finishing and inauguration of the project on 17th of May, the international day for recycling.


3. Advertising Campaign

In parallel to the pavilion’s construction, an informative campaign about it was realized as a part of the consciousness process that was established.

On one hand the schools were informed in order to make the students participate actively in the material collecting task and also to broadcast the event in order to attract the most quantity of people as possible. In this way the viability of the project was guaranteed by implying actively a huge number of people in it.




4. Cartons Collecting

After their consumption the cartons turn into a waste that is partially recycled. In this case a collecting campaign was realized in order to obtain cartons in 100 elementary schools in the whole province of Granada. In this campaign around 65.000 cartons were collected in a period of approximately 3 months.

There were set specific rules for the carton’s collecting, in this way they should be empty an cleaned before being delivered in the schools in order to make easier the assembling task and their following recycling.


5. Cartons Transport & Quality Control

Once the carton’s collection was finished they were carried to the school of architecture where a selection process were done. In this phase around 20.000 cartons were rejected because they did nos accomplish the homogeneity and stability conditions they consider the cartons must have to be part of the final structure.


6. Modules Construction

In a first construction phase the students of the architectonic projects 1 of the school of architecture of Granada realize the assembling of the cartons in order to form the 300 modules that will compose the pavilion.



“It was projected a new constructive system by the carton’s assemblage using simple and resistant materials that did not impede the following recycling of the whole pavilion: staples and cable ties will permit to clip the tabs of each piece with the next one by creating 135º angles. The system prioritizes to minimize the type of different elements but with the most versatility as possible. They will be created like this 3 type of modules with own carrying capacity: the wall, as base solid piece with its lattice variant to provide transparency and let the light pass through and the tower, as a core that join two base pieces lineally or perpendicularly. Definetely is a milk carton kit that, like LEGO pieces, could permit the easier assembling in a record period of 2 weeks we had.” (Project’s memory extract).




7. Modules Transport & Assembly

Once the modules were constructed they were carried to the “parque de las ciencias” (science centre) where the pavilion will be finally located, and the second phase of the project was carried out. During three days the architecture students developed the assembly of the 300 units.


Besides the elements joining, that form a sort of LEGO made by cartons, the different parts were tighten with sand sacks inside them to guarantee the lateral stability of the walls against the wind and other horizontal forces.

The final structure forms a labyrinthine space of 30 meters length per 15 width and 7 height, generating an itinerary through it that generates a series of patios that end in the tower, which is related with the square and the viewpoint tower of the “parque de las ciencias” on one hand and with the nasrid architecture of the Alhambra due to the game of light and shadows that generates the lattice walls.


8. Use of the installation


Imagen 2


When the assembly ends there were realized the celebration act of international day of recycling, which was the main reason of the project.

To the act came representatives of the public entities that took part in the project and the children of the schools that were in charge of the carton’s collection.


Imagen 1

The celebration act includes the pavilion’s inauguration and the certification that the World Record Guinness was reached. Drinks in cartons were delivered and also yellow t-shirts of the event related with the colour of the container in charge of collect this kind of waste. The children could go through the pavilion in which they had collaborated to construct.


Imagen 5

After the act the pavilion was exposed to the general public during three days, in which the visitors could enter and go through inside it.


9. Recycling

Finally the pavilion was moved to a waste treatment plant to proceed to its complete recycling, disappearing completely and finishing like this the cycle set in its origin.



After finishing the project, there is developing a book that summarize all the process in order to use it as informative material and to make the project go beyond of being a construction that the uses could use for three days.

This book is made with recycled material, there is set as a new step after closing the recycling cycle as a new material, using the paper that is generated from the carton’s recycling. In this way there is given an additional value to the carton because the recycling cycle is still existing but with a new step on it.


Accomplished Strategies


Strategy 01 _ Economical & General Management (Economical + Social)

First of all was proposed the way to make viable the project. It was a low cost project in which the milk cartons compose the base material and was obtained free; the people that participate in the construction did it also free because it was a part of their academic project but it was necessary the purchase of the auxiliary materials (cable ties, staplers, staples boxes, punches, clippers, stapler removers, markers and drills for paper) and the sand sacks and the ropes that were used to tight the pavilion.

It was also necessary to manage the transport of the cartons from the schools to the school of architecture and afterwards to the “Parque de las Ciencias” and to the waste treatment plant once the activity ends. On the other hand there was necessary to pay the World Record Guinness and the price that was given to the students of the school that collected many cartons for the project.

To finish they need a little part of the budget destined to broadcast the project and the event developed during the international day of recycling.


Strategy 02 _ Cartons Collection (Social + Cultural)

As there was comment previously, a civic participative process in which boys did the collecting of the cartons and girls of the whole province of Granada collaborate to storage all the material. In this way being them who participate in this project phase they understand it as something they have done, encouraging like this the idea of the individual collaboration that is necessary in the recycling process.

bolsas bricks

To get this objective was established a competition between the different schools, awarding the students of the school that collect many cartons with a trip to a theme park in Sevilla. Moreover, the pavilion’s inauguration day, coinciding with the international day on recycling, all the participants were invited to visit the installations of the “Parque de las Ciencias”, what includes not just the World Record Guinness event but also all the own expositions that there were at the moment.


Strategy 03 _ Collaborative Construction (Social + Cultural + Economical)

As well as reduce the expenses by having workers that work for free; the pavilion’s construction is set as a collaborative process structured as a workshop in which participate the students of Projects 1 of the ETSA of Granada.


In this way the pavilion assembling was framed as an activity as a part of the subject giving the participants the opportunity of learn through the construction process and guaranteeing the participation of the students in the project.

Each student was asked to build three pieces corresponding to each unit defined and this construction was the part of the subject. Afterwards the students also collaborate in the assembly in sittu of the pavilion.


Strategy 04 _ 100% Trash Construction (Environmental + Economical)

Construct with a waste material was set as a main objective of the project, establishing a concrete framework that propose the use of the cartons as constructive element, finishing and structure of the pavilion at the same time; what makes that repeating just one element the whole pavilion is configured. In this way they get a great coherence between the initial proposal and their construction.

This proposal makes the project was provided of a sort of environmental values that makes it interesting beyond the formal aspects and also permit a really cheap construction by reducing nearly to zero the material expenses of the pavilion.



Strategy 05 _ Local Reference (Cultural)

The spatial and forma relation with the space in which is inserted and with the history of the city provide an additional cultural value to the project.


The shape of the pavilion establish on one hand a formal parallelism between the horizontality of the walls that gives its shape respect the Curie Square in which is inserted and the vertical of the observation tower of the “Parque de las ciencias”.

On the other hand appears a relation with the Muslim architecture of the Alhambra by generating a series of patios separated by intermediate spaces just like the filter that is generated by the specific way of joining the cartons between them in a lattice shape, that provide veiled views through the elements that compose the pavilion.


Strategy 06 _ World Record Ginness (Economical + Cultural + Social)

Obtaining a World Record Guinnes is shown apparently as the objective of the project but there is also a way of obtaining an objective that go beyond this mention.

There is set a way to provide the project representation by the advertising that is obtained by belonging to the World Record Guinness entity, which is known worldwide. In this way the record obtaining is used as a medium to generate a consciousness about the recycling and the realization of a series of activities with a socio-cultural character liked with the pavilion construction.

Despite the necessity of an economic invest for the payment by obtaining the Guinness Record (with an outlay of around 7.000€) there is set as a smaller expense than what it was necessary to get the equivalent diffusion in television and radio.


Strategy 07 _ Complete Project Recycling (Environmental)

As the last project strategy, there is set the necessity of realize a completely recycling construction, what frame the project in the recycling cycle, giving an extra useful life to the milk carton and develop questions as the necessity of think the constructions not just during their useful lives but also from the origin of the materials until after the building has lost its capacity to continue being used for the purpose in which it appeared.




The main difficulty that the project confronts is the coordination of all the agents that participate in the project. The strategy of involve the architecture students makes necessary their organization and set risks due to their lack of constructive experience.

It was necessary to finish the project construction in around two weeks what it makes necessary the development of an exhaustive work by the students that must construct the pieces.

The way in which the construction was proposed causes problems with the identification of the modules that were being finishing (every student have to justify that they have constructed their 3 different pieces). As all the modules were equal their owners start to sing them when some people want to keep the finished pieces. Also during this process, the students took the other’s staplers what cause conflicts between them.



During the collecting process appeared difficulties that will be traduced into issues for the pavilion construction due to the collected cartons many times were not being cleaned, as they should be; this produce during the following construction phase problems because the builders have to empty the cartons that contain fermented milk. This produce very uncomfortable smells that causes discomfort in the school of architecture where the pieces were being assembling.

Besides the problems for the pavilion construction, the dirt causes that the recycling process was more difficult by generating disadvantages derivative from their cleaning.

On the other hand, the lack of infrastructure generate difficulties because during the construction it start to rain and the pieces were wet what causes worry in the designers for the possibility of the cartons loose their resistance by the effect of the water.



Despite the association composed by RESUR and the “Diputación de Granada” was in charge of finance the project; the budget destined for the pavilion developing (2.500€) was very limited for the project size. For this reason it was necessary to manage very well this amount of money in order to finish the project properly.

Despite the order received, the studios involved in the design (CUAC and Sugar Plaform) did not obtain any economical benefit for their work, what mixed with the amount of hours that should be necessary to accomplish with the project generated difficulties.



Regarding to the cultural part of the project, the main difficulty appear from the necessity of generate a recycling consciousness raising. In the beginning a marketing project turns into the development of a constructive process; the pavilion was developed in the described way but the difficulty appear in the process of explaining how this project implies a consciousness about recycling.

Additionally, while the design of the project was being developing, the School of Technical Architects of Huelva constructed a metallic structure covered by construction helmets and this count as a construction using recycled material and exceed the previous record, what creates difficulties because was necessary to make the pavilion bigger in order to obtain the World Record Guinness.



Constructively appear a lot of problems that should been solved in order to make the pavilion reality.

On one hand they have not the equipment that was necessary to raise the tower (of 7 meters height) and they have to raise it manually what create problems because the cartons in contact with the floor did not resist the efforts that appear by doing this movements. In the end it was necessary to raise vertical the tower between many people and move it balanced to its final place where it was put over the walls and fixed and stretched in a suitable way.

Besides it, they had no space where storage the finished pieces that the students were constructing what generate problems in the normal development of the school of architecture that was temporally moved to a high school until their building was being finished.

At last, they did not know until a few days before the pavilion transport which was the site where the pavilion was going to be assembled, what made necessary to find the suitable space and adapt the final design to that specific space; for this reason the final shape was defined in the very moment the construction were being assembled.


Successes and Failures

The project appear as a marketing campaign for creating a consciousness raising about the necessity of recycling and there was set not as a usual campaign in radio, television and posters in the streets but as a collaborative activity in which the different agents were involved actively for the project realization.

Culturally talking, it is difficult to measure the impact generated in the school context, without any doubt they get to transmit, overall the youngest, the values they were looking for, as it could be confirmed by the huge amount of material collected and the comments that the children did in the interviews that the televisions developed in the event celebration.

In opinion of Tomás and Javier (CUAC) the capacity of the project in a teaching level, with respect to the architecture students was incomparable, due to it made that the student learn in their first degree year some things that otherwise were impossible. Using a teaching method through the personal experimentation and testing accuracy-error in their proposals. In this part, the unique proposal that was unsatisfactory was the phase in which the students have to set the constructive system to use because they had not got knowledge enough to develop a result in that scale on their first year.

Maybe as investigation project could be considered as a failure because the little repercussion that the constructive system developed could have, in this way there is a work that, despite being constructed, do not go beyond the academic/intellectual sphere.

The environmental consequences of the project are minimum due to the main objective was the generation of an environmental education, not a recycling task in a large scale. Anyway, after finishing the project more than 65.000 cartons were recycled, and for this reason the project also collaborate with the environment during its development.

Surely, the biggest achievement of the project is in a social level because the number of people of different characteristics that were involved to develop the project in all the described phases.




Summarizing there was a project from which we could learn a lot of things; overall with respect to the way in which the different collectives are integrated in order to create a project that otherwise could be impossible to develop.

In the actual contexts is necessary to propose situations like what here is described in order to carry out with this type of actuations due to the lack of economical sources make impossible to develop them in another way.

Is also very interesting the way in which a conventional communication project is transformed in an artistic/architectural proposal, what causes a better acceptance for the society by setting something different to the things the people is used to.

In the end, the teaching and architectonic aspects are also remarkable, getting a final result quite attractive and getting the most of a material that in usual conditions do not offer anything.








–       Interview to Tomás García Píriz y Javier Castellano Pulido (CUAC Arquitectura)



–       Archivo Javier Callejas




















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