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N.Y. show spotlights ‘Solos SmartWrap’

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"The Solos: SmartWrap" exhibit at Cooper-Hewitt Museum in New York.

“The Solos: SmartWrap” exhibit at Cooper-Hewitt Museum in New York.

Mary Altaffer, Associated Press

NEW YORK — Take a look at that plastic soda bottle. Now imagine a wall, or even the facade of a whole building, made from the same material.

It's not far-fetched, according to the creative minds behind the first in a series of exhibitions on contemporary work in architecture and design. The technologies already exist and could be ready for public use in as few as three to five years.

"Solos: SmartWrap" at the Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum is one such exhibit, featuring a 24-foot-high structure wrapped in PET, a transparent material similar in appearance to the plastic used in soda bottles.

Applied to the PET are elements such as light-emitting diodes, solar cells, thin batteries and ink capable of conducting electrical current. The result is what's called SmartWrap, a millimeters-thin wall that fills all the functions of the bulkier walls used in buildings today, from climate control to power.

"What this does is push the limits beyond the conventional materials we have used for the last 6,000 years," said architectural researcher James Timberlake.

"The Solos series was meant to feature new architecture, new design, real cutting-edge technology.