'Toy Storey' Is A House In Kerala Tackling Plastic Waste By Using Toys As Building Blocks

Wallmakers tackled the pervasive plastic problem in Vadakara by ingeniously repurposing plastic toys as building materials for the Toy Storey project.
Wallmakers tackled the pervasive plastic problem in Vadakara by ingeniously repurposing plastic toys as building materials for the Toy Storey project.Wallmakers

Toys, often seen as simple playthings, carry a weight far beyond their physical form. They weave into our childhood narratives, becoming symbols of our experiences, dreams, and a projection of our own selves. Like characters in a story, toys humanize our journey, shaping our identity and self-perception as we navigate the world. As we grow, our bond with these companions strengthens, not for their material value, but for the memories and emotions they hold, anchoring us to our past selves. Parting with them, inevitable as it may be, signifies a poignant transition, marking our evolution while honouring the essence of our childhood.

Yet, in our modern reality, the proliferation of plastic toys has birthed a pressing environmental concern. Vadakara, a Kerala municipality renowned for its avid toy consumption, reflects a microcosm of a global issue — plastic waste. The shift from traditional wooden toys to plastic counterparts has contributed significantly to this crisis, with a staggering 80% of all toys meeting a fate of landfills, incinerators, or ocean pollution. It is within this context that Wallmakers, a homegrown trailblazer in sustainable architecture, took a decisive step forward with their transformative project, Toy Storey.

Wallmakers tackled the pervasive plastic problem in Vadakara by ingeniously repurposing plastic toys as building materials for the Toy Storey project. Vinu Daniel, the visionary founder and lead architect at Wallmakers, recognized the durability of modern plastic toys, as evidenced by the ubiquitous Lego block's resilience. Leveraging this indestructible quality and sporting a circular design, the Toy Storey residence repurposes discarded plastic toys as literal building blocks, transforming what was once a problem into a sustainable and innovative architectural solution. As local children are invited to explore the property in search of their old toys, the project not only mitigates plastic waste but also preserves cherished childhood memories, epitomizing Wallmakers' commitment to sustainable design and community engagement.

At the heart of Toy Storey lies a central courtyard enveloped by a composite wall made of Compressed Stabilised Earth Blocks (CSEB) known as the Toy Jaali, crafted from soil sourced directly from the site. This intricate design not only acts as a decorative feature but also serves as a perforated external layer, facilitating continuous cross ventilation and enhancing thermal insulation.

The concept behind Toy Storey extends beyond mere architectural aesthetics; it embodies the notion of a "House within a house." The expansive communal living area beckons neighbors and community members, fostering a sense of togetherness. Meanwhile, the incorporation of Japanese-style shoji screens as translucent partitions seamlessly integrates light and visual connectivity while maintaining privacy in the secluded zones.

Much like the purpose of shoji screens in sukiya-zukuri architecture, which emphasizes a harmonious and graceful living environment, the screens made of toys serve as dividers that facilitate the flow of light while maintaining a sense of connectivity between private and public spaces. Just as shoji screens provide visual privacy without blocking sounds, the toy screens in Toy Storey create a gentle separation without completely isolating areas, fostering a sense of openness and fluidity within the living spaces. Furthermore, the inherent translucency of the 'toy screens' allows for a seamless integration of natural light, enhancing the overall brightness and ambience of the interiors.

In today's era of heightened environmental consciousness and global climate crisis, the imperative to question our trajectory as a species becomes paramount.Wallmakers, through their projects like Toy Storey exemplify this shift in perspective — from asking "What should we build?" to questioning "Should we build at all?"

In the inevitable event of construction, the emphasis shifts to utilizing materials that have already become environmental liabilities rather than sourcing fresh resources. This ethos fuels their commitment to utilizing locally available materials and techniques.

At Wallmakers, the ethos revolves around crafting sustainable spaces that not only respond to site-specific nuances but also strike a harmonious balance between innovation and functionality. Toy Storey stands as a testament to this ethos that redefines the boundaries of sustainable architecture while honoring the essence of communal living and environmental stewardship.

You can check out Toy Storey & Wallmakers' other projects here.