How will pineapple leaves, algae and mushroom cement save the future of our cities?

Taking place between 22-24 November, Mini Extraoddinary presented a host of projects set to tackle the environmental issues caused by rapid urbanisation, and usher in innovations which may very well change how we live in the future.

Date
6 December 2019
Reading Time
3 minute read

Overconsumption – and the way we as humans have chosen to live our lives in recent decades – has left us in an unprecedented state of emergency. Rapid urbanisation is one of the many factors contributing to the current threat to our planet, and around 55 per cent of the world’s population currently lives in cities, a figure which is set to rise to 68 per cent by 2050, according to a 2018 report by the UN’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs. And while these cities are incredible hubs of creativity, innovation and diversity, there is a myriad of issues associated with urban living.

Our cities are the cause of mass pollution and plastic waste and are a key contributor to climate change. MINI Singapore decided to address these issues head-on by introducing a new project: MINI Extraoddinary, showcasing the unconventional, or “extraoddinary” solutions which are needed for our extraordinary problems.

For its second instalment, MINI Extraoddinary took place in Chinatown in Singapore between 22-24 November, providing a continued opportunity to look at ideas which promote genuine and meaningful change. “There’s no doubt we are living in extraordinary times, facing an unprecedented waste problem, climate change, food security issues,” says Kidd Yam, Head of MINI Asia. “We hope to shine a light on a more sustainable path moving forward.” While 2018’s edition of Extraoddinary focussed on community building through the creative use of space, the issue of sustainability took the spotlight this time around.

MINI worked with creative agency Kinetic Singapore to bring the trail to life for the second year in a row. It included 16 stations, each showcasing eye-opening trends and innovations in the field of sustainability, providing a glimpse into the cities of tomorrow; from the clothes we’ll wear to the food we’ll eat and how we’ll build our homes.

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A “fruit stall” displayed lifestyle products made from Piñatex – a textile upcycled from pineapple leaves. Photo credit: MINI Asia & Kinetic Singapore

One exhibit titled Soup for the Eco-soul, for example, showcased an edible bioplastic by Evoware. “Imagine a plastic that can be dissolved in water or eaten together with the food it wraps, thereby eliminating waste and pollution,” the exhibit posed. Taking place outside a Chinese medical hall, Soup for the Eco-soul showcased traditional herbal soup ingredients packed in this edible yet tasteless “plastic”. It’s a project which could truly revolutionise our future and help to tackle The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a mound of waste plastic three times the size of France.

Moving away from sustainable packing and onto fashion, an industry with a lot to answer for on the environmental front, was Pineapple Trading Store. The Chinese love all things that bring prosperity, hence their affection for the pineapple whose Chinese name sounds like a “summoning of fortune”: 旺来 (wang lai). At this installation, set up to look like a fruit stall in front of a food centre, visitors were able to learn about Piñatex, a textile up-cycled from pineapple leaves, traditionally thrown away as agricultural byproducts. A leather-like material, Pineapple Trading Store showcased an array of accessories made from this eco-leather alternative.

While many of the installations honed in on sustainability in relation to our environment, a huge focus was also placed on cultural sustainability and broadening the conversation in this area. It’s for this reason that the trail was set in the heart of the historic Chinatown district, incorporating an element of Chinese history in as many installations as possible.

All in all, it was an event that challenged the status quo, introducing breakthrough ideas that could have a legitimate impact. It took on mushrooms that are stronger than concrete, eating algae for dinner, turning sewage into ink and trash into furniture, and so much more, ushering in innovations which may very well change how we live in the future.

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MINI Extraoddinary 2019: An ecocultural trail in Chinatown Singapore. Photo credit: MINI Asia & Kinetic Singapore

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Trashy Chinatown souvenirs made of 100% plastic waste. Photo credit: MINI Asia & Kinetic Singapore

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A Chinese chess installation where the game pieces, including the tables and stools, were made of upcycled plastic trash. Photo credit: MINI Asia & Kinetic Singapore

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Auspicious blessings for the Earth written in ink derived from sewage biosolids. Photo credit: MINI Asia & Kinetic Singapore

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Soup herbs packed in edible seaweed plastic on display outside a traditional Chinese medical hall. Photo credit: MINI Asia & Kinetic Singapore

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Traditionally made of stone, these Chinese Imperial guardian lions were instead grown from mycelium. Photo credits: (left) Jeryl Tan Photography (right) MINI Asia & Kinetic Singapore

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MINI Extraoddinary 2019: An ecocultural trail in Chinatown Singapore. Photo credit: MINI Asia & Kinetic Singapore

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MINI Extraoddinary 2019: An ecocultural trail in Chinatown Singapore. Credit: MINI Asia & Kinetic Singapore

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