The athleisure market has grown significantly over the decades, resulting in a behemoth of unusable waste. This thesis proposes restructuring the current linear industry into a circular one that utilises upcoming technologies to create sustainable sneakers that can be recycled for the next shoe. Consumers would be engaged in the full production process to develop their relationship with the product and the environment at large, creating a new type of retail experience. Sneakers become the main object of engagement, “touching the earth” both physically and metaphorically to connect to the larger issues of materials, architecture and environment.
Taipei was selected for their strong recycling culture and push for sustainable fashion. The site is located in-between two malls of the Taipei Dome area and in the axis of Taipei Design Museum, which features many avant-garde product designs. The retail would be built underground to have ground floor visual access to the museum. The ground floor becomes a transition point to move between the public transport points to the galleries, creating a new entrance to the museum compared to the previously secluded one. It would also reinsert back green space, which was cleared for the construction of Taipei Dome, creating a new park area that extends into the current green space buffer around the museums. Facilities such as sport courts and open space platforms would allow for a range of activities that can engage the surrounding residents and tourists alike. By engaging people with the product as well as the community of the site’s vicinity, retail spaces can grow beyond its commercial function to serve and educate about sustainability for a more positive future for the environment.
Today’s consumerist society has disconnected consumers from the production of its products and its impact on the environment, resulting in a growing behemoth of unusable waste. Joshua’s thesis focuses on the waste in the sneaker industry – 15 billion pairs of sneakers are produced every year! He believes the future of sneaker retail should be integrated with upcoming technologies for recycling into new sneakers to create a circular industry. The selected site for this new prototype of sneaker retail is in Taipei, which has a strong recycling culture – his proposal connects with the site’s context of a busy pedestrian thoroughfare and its history of being a park before new buildings were erected. He returns the park to the people by proposing a non-building and using easily navigational ramps and steps to attract visitors to the sneaker recycling and retail facility.- Prof. in Practice Richard Ho