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March 24, 2009 – 8:44 pm

The Berlin Wall, Dominos, and Styrofoam.

- Posted in Art & Sculpture, Polystyrene Uses by Fran

Styrofoam blocks decorated at the Brandenburg Gate

Launch of the 'Domino Aktion' event in Berlin

These aren’t the words that you have include in a sentence to win a holiday competition, although it could be a very worthwhile idea for travel companies providing city breaks to Berlin.

The ‘Festival of Freedom‘ was recently launched to celebrate the 20th anniversary year of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Events are planned throughout the year, one of these being ‘Domino Aktion’. Thousands of young people across Germany will paint and decorate approximately 1,000 blocks of Styrofoam to act as dominos, which will then be brought to Berlin. The dominos are to be set up in a row following the course of the former Wall through the city centre, and then knocked over in a domino-effect. This event is scheduled for November 9 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and to symbolize the domino-like fall of communist powers across Eastern Europe in 1989.

So, why are they using  blocks of Styrofoam?
The ‘Domino specification’, included in the press release, gives us a clue:

  • Domino size   1 m wide x 2.50 m high x 0.40 cm thick
  • Material   Medium-density polystyrene foam
  • Weight   Approx. 20 kg
  • Fastening   Metal base plate for fastening
  • Shell   Approx. 75 g/m2 of sheer muslin as a protective edge and painting surface
Polystyrene block & art

Styrofoam blocks being decorated at the Brandenburg Gate

The size of the dominos is going to create a fabulous visual impact, especially when they are decorated and placed on the path of the original Berlin Wall.
Polystyrene or Styrofoam is a relatively inexpensive material, particularly when they are using around one thousand blocks.
Given the size of the blocks, they will still be lightweight. This will also leave them easier to handle and transport from schools across Germany.
The fastening plate is to prevent the blocks from being removed or accidentally knocked over before the event…that would be unfortunate and potentially embarrassing.
They are being wrapped in sheer muslin for two reasons:
(1) to prevent foam pieces breaking off and creating a litter nuisance, especially when they are to be pushed over at the climax of the event, and
(2) the muslin can be removed so that the foam blocks will be able to be recycled.

Here is a video showing them testing the distances between the polystyrene blocks to make sure that they will fall, they used a 100 blocks for this test.

This is an excellent example showing how versatile Styrofoam is and how it can be used in many unique ways. We will look forward to the event and hope to enter any competition if a travel agent wants to take up the challenge.

Post a Comment


  1. Niamh

    Posted March 25, 2009 at 12:58 am | Permalink

    That’s really cool, thanks for bringing it to my attention. I was in Berlin last month, great city.

    Really like your product :)

    - Niamh

  2. Fran

    Posted March 25, 2009 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    Thanks Niamh for your comments.
    I’ve never been to Berlin myself, so it could be a good event to attend. My wife might not think so if she sees more Polystyrene :-)

  3. Jennifer Farley

    Posted April 7, 2009 at 5:46 am | Permalink

    Hi Fran
    Nice article. I’ve been to Berlin twice and it’s a great city. I can’t believe it’s 20 years since the wall came down. I wonder what do they do with the polystyrene when they’re finished?

  4. Fran

    Posted April 7, 2009 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    Thanks Jennifer for your comments.
    It is hard to believe it’s 20 years from seeing those images on the TV of the wall falling and the joy on the faces of the people their.
    Germany is very pro-active on recycling & energy conservation so I presume that the blocks will be processed in some way. I think that is why they are being wrapped in muslin, this can be removed and the unpainted blocks could ground down to be reused again. This is what happen with our off cuts, they go back to the supplier and they are used to make new blocks.

  5. Leslie

    Posted October 17, 2009 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

    Great idea for a public art project commemorating the twentieth (already?!) anniversary of the fall of the wall. I only wish styrofoam were banned from production and taken out of circulation – it’s horrible for the environment.

  6. Fran

    Posted October 18, 2009 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for your comment Leslie.
    I think the fact that the German authorities are using it on such a high profile event shows that Styrofoam, if used and recycled in an appropriate manner, can be a useful and versatile material. Efficient and effective recycling is the key to prevent it ending up in landfill.

  7. Deirdre Mackel

    Posted May 10, 2010 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    Brilliant project! I would love to find out who initiated and developed the project, and and the artist that was involved?

  8. Fran

    Posted May 10, 2010 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

    Hi Deirdre,
    Thanks for the comment.
    I would say that it was probably a local government initiative in Berlin that developed the project/concept. You might find information on this site

    I think the artists were from all over Germany, from school kids to celebrities.