Alexandra Singer-Bieder & Sofia Bennani received the Young Talent Prize for the Africa Design Award 2014 with the project Straw‐k, made of plastic tubes melted together on the surface.
The type of assembly used by Alexandra Singer-Bieder and Sofia Bennani for Straw-k is the basis of a homogeneous material, here composed of polyethylene, which requires no binding agent (called autogenous welding).
In the first place, the two young designers tested all the scientific properties of the Straw‐k in terms of fabrication process and tools, structural/mechanical qualities and relation with light and sound, to evaluate its possible applications. For that, they fabricated dozens of hand crafted prototypes using different forms, lengths, diameters and colours of the plastic tubes.
The second main point was about finding an innovative manufacturing technique which could optimize the time and the result of the process. So they designed and developed an automated Straw‐k manufacturing process for the melting stage, using an industrial robot. As of today, they had the possibility to test it on two flat surfaces of 1 sqm each, with two torches at the same time in an X,Y axes.
This researches ended by the proposal of a scale 1 installation in the Ecole Speciale d’Architecture hall (Paris) made of 250 000 plastic straws for a total of 12 sqm of matter. Spread on the bleachers of the ESA main hall, the Straw‐k installation was multifunction shape: a floor, a wall, a seat, a bench, etc. where the students were able for 10 days to test the qualities of the material. The installation was here to deform the black and white rigid colour repartition of the school hall into an organic shape, giving for the first time a real function to the bleachers and a singular atmosphere to the place.